Dribbling Drills

I sometimes use dribbling drills from my basketball days as novel praxis tasks for my kiddos. Here are some examples. These can improve hand skills, ball manipulation skills, coordination, and ability to adapt to a new task. Using an actual basketball can be too large and difficult for the kids, so a kickball (which also has more bounce) can be beneficial. A tennis ball can be used for some of the initial drills but it is very difficult.

I've tried to list these in a rough order of difficulty, but that's based on my opinion.

circles- Not actually dribbling, but rotating the ball around your waist and switching hands as you go around. As you get good, you can go faster and also start incorporating circles around your head and knees.
basic dribbling- just learning to dribble is a task for many kids. When you can do 5 dribbles in a row, then you can try to advance the difficulty by trying to use only one hand and staying in one area. You can put a tape circle on the floor and try to get the child to keep the ball within that circle, or have them sit on a chair and try to maintain the dribble.
alternating hands- being able to dribble sort of in a "V" in front of you using each hand once. This switching of hands is very difficult for many kids.
dribble around obstacles- by setting up cones, chairs, or even a jumprope on the floor in a pattern, you can have the child negotiate obstacles while dribbling.
kills- start by bouncing the ball up at your waist or a normal height. Then you bring the ball as low as possible while still bouncing the ball. After a few dribbles in the low position, bring it back up to waist height.
push/pull or V-dribble- with one hand only, bring the ball to the left and right in front of you. You have to actually move your hand to the opposite side of the ball to make this work. Once you get this going you can do forward/backward pushes on the side in addition to the left/right in front of you.
between the legs- for teaching this, it's best to have one leg significantly in front of the other, more of a narrow but long base of support. Then you dribble with alternating hands as close to directly underneath you as possible.
figure 8's- dribble around your leg using one hand and use that hand to push the ball from behind you between your legs to the front. Now switch hands and go in the opposite direction. To increase the difficulty, try to do very small dribbles. Then you can do a countdown- only allowed 5 dribbles before going between the legs and progressing down to 1 or 0!
rhythm- this is a complicated pattern and I cannot find a video. (I'd make one myself but I currently look more like I am hiding a basketball under my shirt than a basketball player- also I can't do it very quickly). Start with the ball in front of you in your left hand. Bring it quickly to your right side with a slap. Now using right hand only, bring the ball around your right leg and connect with your left hand underneath your center. Let the ball bounce once and switch your right hand to the front and your left hand to the back to catch the ball. Now take the ball in your left hand around your left leg and start the process over.
spider- with your legs spread horizontally, tap the ball with your fingertips, alternating hands. First you will do left and right hands in front of your body and then reach around to do left and right behind you. Try to keep the ball right under your center.
blindfolded dribble- any kind of dribbling activity blindfolded will be a challenge, even just sitting on a chair while dribbling.
double dribble- use 2 balls and try to dribble both. You can try to alternate having one up while the other is down or try to do push/pulls with both hands.

The wonders of the internet bring you an entire playlist of dribbling drills on youtube. Not all of these are going by the same names as I have listed above but it's still a good resource.

Accomplish all of these and you can be the next Pistol Pete! The kids I have been working with recently are a little too young or lacking in basic ball skills to pull off any of these drills, but hopefully this list will be helpful to you! Remember that you can always work on passing, bouncing off the wall, and passing while on a swing or wobble board for additional challenges.


#AOTA13 Social Media Presentation

I wish I was preparing to head out to sunny California and join the OT A-Team in the second edition of our social media presentation, but let's be honest: if I haven't had the baby yet, I'm probably taking a nap. Here is some supplementary information to my part of the presentation.

Title: What’s New in Digital and Social Media for Occupational Therapy?   
Short Course 328  Saturday 2-330pm

Digital and social media can facilitate interventions with clients and advance occupational therapy practice. In this era of constant change it is difficult to keep up with the latest tools. Presenters will share their knowledge and expertise about five key categories of digital and social media essential for practice.

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My category is networking- how we develop relationships and communicate online. You can watch my presentation on video here. Most people are familiar with social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn,
 Google+ and Twitter) but may not be aware of how to use these for professional development. There are also niche communities for therapists such as OTConnections or OT Exchange. Mainstream networks have an advantage over niche sites of greater usage, wider functionality, reduced cost, integration with other sites.

Here are some of the ways that you can use networking websites to advance your professional development as an OT practitioner.

Most people are familiar with Facebook since it has an estimated billion monthly users worldwide (http://newsroom.fb.com/Key-Facts).  Website is open to anyone with an email address and allows you to “friend” people you know, “subscribe” to public updates of others, and “like” pages representing brands, public figures, or organizations.

Many groups use Facebook because the wide usage is a great way to get lots of members for brainstorming and crowdsourcing of ideas. Group pages currently represent a way to start discussions, share resources or files, and host events. Some of the most popular Facebook groups are in the “4OT” series- OT4OT, AT4OT, MH4OT.

Public pages are a way for organizations, brands, or public figures to present information to the Facebook community at large. (These pages used to be truly public, offering a free website service, but this has changed) Page owners try to communicate with those that “like” them but can be limited by changing algorithms and restrictions from Facebook on number of posts allowed or likelihood of those posts to show in a person’s newsfeed.

Some of the negatives regarding Facebook usage include frequent changes in privacy and features without notice, the lack of control over what exactly appears in your newsfeed, and the advertisements (some of which are less obvious than others). Facebook is also publically traded and trying to turn a profit.

Exemplars: OT4OT group connects therapists around the globe as they share resources related to online technology and occupational therapy. Kawa Model page gets interaction from OTs related to the Kawa River Model.

Twitter is a microblogging site allowing only short updates of 140 characters or less. This provides a quick platform to provide a status update, share a link, or interact with a wide audience. This is an easy way to connect with peers or engage in upward networking with a public figure or organization. Hashtags allow for ongoing conversations on a subject or event.

Twitter chat can be topical or during events and offer a way to share resources, connect to other professionals, and process information in real time. Some offerings for OTs include the expanding #OTalk brand ( #OTalk2us #anzOTalk ) #occhat #aota13 #ot24vx. The 24 hour OT Virtual Exchange lecture series is a setup of live OT lectures presented via web video, which gets great worldwide attention on twitter. Anita and Chris have also been using twitter to solicit interaction from international participants for the OT classes they teach.

Twitter chats shouldn’t be carried off as a lecture. The best ones are dynamic between participants. Sometimes this is accomplished by having specific questions also tagged in the post, or by a few participants having a side conversation marked by their names. This should not be considered a distraction, but a separate learning process to synthesize ideas. Just as some people learn better by doodling or talking during an event, these ongoing discussions can help a person achieve a deeper learning than just sitting idly by.

Some of the disadvantages of twitter are that you are limited to a short phrase to share, so it can be hard to explain something in detail. There can be a large flow of information which can be overwhelming for some to manage (though tools like Tweetchat and aggregators can assist in this). While there are private messaging options, most conversations are very public. I sometimes have to unfollow people even when they are interesting because they have too many tweets or too many replies cluttering the feed… conversely, if you do not post very often your tweets may get completely overlooked.

Exemplar chat: #OTalk  -the original chat runs biweekly out of the UK (Tuesdays 3pm Eastern) on various topics related to OT. Make sure that you also check out #OTalk2US one Sunday each month at 7pm Eastern.   Exemplar user: @gilliancrossley who tweets her blog posts, helpful OT info, and participates in multiple chats.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site designed to contain only people you actually know to advance your business world connections. It allows you to build an online portfolio showcasing your work history, projects, and awards. You can see connections of your contacts to try to gain an introduction into a particular company. You can also search for jobs or be contacted by a prospective employer if your profile is set up in this manner. Group pages allow for discussions related to an overall topic.

Some of the downsides of this site that I have found are the frequent requests to connect from recruiters, lack of variety in group posts, and inability to message a person you may be acquainted with.

Google+ is part of the integrated google platform that allows you to subscribe to individuals’ posts and categorize them into interest circles. The advantage over groups here as opposed to other sites is that you can integrate easily with Google Drive to share and edit documents and video chat. The open video chats are a unique and worthwhile feature. There are a number of other features which do not have to be used in a “social” manner, such as automatic photo backup and updating your contacts on your phone. Google also uses its trademark algorithm to try to find interesting posts and people for you to add to your circles.

While Google is a household brand and has a variety of products (search, Android phone/tablet platforms, calendar, drive, etc), Google+ still needs to gain active users to really gain momentum. Social sites are only useful if their participants have a number of active connections. 

Individual blogs can also be a way for networking to take place. Frequent commenters can develop a community as they interact with one another over posts. Some of the qualities I look for in a good blog are frequency of updates (I prefer between once every 2 weeks to 3x/week), quality of writing and posts, and ability to foster interaction on the page. Tonya from TherapyFunZone has been trying to encourage monthly link-ups of fun activities in the comment section, and YourTherapySource also is good about encouraging interaction. The exemplar for a true networking community on a blog would be the Mothers in Medicine blog, which has a group of authors who also comment frequently on others’ posts as well as a large group of followers that comment also.

Trends in networking

Peer to peer communication remains a main use for social networking sites. But now it is becoming far more common for users to engage in upward networking- contacting celebrities or organizations directly and expecting a response. In the general usage, power companies are responding to users directly when issues arise. AOTA has really improved in the past 3 years of responding and recognizing OTs on social networking sites, and is great about answering questions. 

The netiquette for making new connections varies on the context and an individual’s preferences. I prefer to keep facebook friends to people who I actually know and am share more with those I am close to, but others (cough cough Erik) are fine with maintaining a more public presence. Most people keep their Twitter accounts open for all to follow. I try not to follow too many people as it can be too distracting for me. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ all offer options to subscribe to public posts, instead of needing approval.

Integrated options are gaining ground across the web. These can offer ease of use if you no longer have to remember multiple logins but beware, this log in can follow you and be a sleeper program in the background. You may be unknowingly acting as an advertisement on your friends’ pages or affecting their search results. The use of your login may also give the site or application access to your friends or other private information. Social reader options are not taking off because people want to be able to read in peace. 

We are also seeing a big uptake in mobile applications for online sites and organizations like Google and Facebook making their own phones.  We now expect applications to work across multiple platforms to be useful. In the US, this is a matter of convenience, I want to be able to access information while on the go or without having to boot up a computer. But in many countries, access to the internet is primarily through mobile devices instead of computers. So mobile usage becomes essential for any connection to the international audience.

Most of the popular sites are basically stealing each other’s ideas and features. As Pinterest gained momentum, you saw an increase in visual media usage for the other sites, such as Facebook acquiring Instagram and Google+ encouraging users to share their uploaded photos. This feature thieving is at a point where some of the main social media sites are becoming bogged down with features that have been rushed to market in attempt to compete, and may not be fully functional or bug-free. I believe that this trend, along with the frequent changes in how content is presented and privacy is managed, is why many people take a hiatus from social networking.

My keywords for social networking are integration, moderation, separation, and filtration. I want to integrate my participation into routines that I already have instead of trying to start an entirely new habit. For me, this also means that I prefer to use applications that work on both my computer and my phone so that I have multiple options to access when I have the time. I moderate my screen time and don’t feel bad about un-following or un-friending if I find that someone’s posts aren’t helpful to me or are too time consuming. You also shouldn’t feel bad about having networks that you prefer and ones that you don’t use.  I keep my personal and professional lives separate online to an extent, which I think helps me stay less stressed and better balanced. Similarly, I try to filter what I allow in and what I put out. Thinking before I post or add someone else to my circle has been helpful. By following those principles, I can keep my overall media time low while still getting the useful professional development and lighthearted fun that I want. Social media usage can easily be balanced into your life to facilitate professional networking in an innovative way.

Overall, there are many options for OTs to find professional networking and information sharing online. Experiment with a few sites to see what works best for your interests, learning preferences, and time available. 

Check out my superb cohorts:

Anita @virtualOT  TechnOTs blog
Chris @chrisalterio  ABC Therapeutics blog
Erik @armyOTguy  Army OT Guy blog
Karen @funkist  Miss Awesomeness blog

and I believe special thanks is owed to Allison Sullivan @allisulliOTprof for running a twitter chat during the session (#SoMeOT )  and Bill Wong @billwongOT for assisting with streaming video.


Product Review & Giveaway: Aimee's Babies DVDs

When I started making out my baby registries, and had one on amazon.com where the options were limitless, I decided to cast a wider net than the "standard" baby gifts. I have been interested in infant massage since my time in the NICU but not able to work out the time or money to go to a certification class. When I saw a massage video from an occupational therapist (one with a newly reactivated blog I had been following even) I decided to add it to my registry and try to learn a little about massage before I had my baby. Unfortunately, no one bought the DVD for me. However, I purchased the massage video for myself at a discount when the Aimee's Babies blog ran a promotion. Aimee then contacted me about reviewing the massage and developmental milestones DVDs on this blog.

My husband and I watched the videos together and collected our opinions on them. This way, we would have both an OT and layperson opinion.

The Baby Massage video is available as a DVD or digital download, and has a supplementary app also available. The video first briefly reviews infant development in motor and sensory systems. Aimee approaches the need for infant massage through a sensory integration perspective. After the introduction, she demonstrates performing the full body massage on an infant with description of her actions. She uses the Baby's First Massage method, which is intended for a typically developing child.

My husband and I both felt that the developmental section moved very quickly. While I was familiar with the information, he was less so, and would have benefitted from a slower pace. There was also some confusion because not all of what was referenced applied to newborns (which is what I think of when I hear 'babies') but also to the 6 months and up group. The developmental section would have benefitted from more of a multisensory learning method- listing out the developmental exercises that were being spoken about or just referred to through the pictures. Some senses, like position-in-space, were only briefly referred to and that confused my husband as well.

After the developmental section, we got to see the massage. I was happy to see that Aimee discussed specific contraindications to massage and referred to the general benefits of massage. I would have liked to see a brief discussion of the research that has been done on infant massage. Again, my husband and I felt the pacing was a little too quick. We will definitely need to watch the video again before trying the massage. My husband commented that it would have been nice to have this at the pace like an exercise video so that you could perform the massage on your baby at the same time.

Since I knew the benefits of infant massage before watching the video, I think I was more receptive to the overall concept than my husband. While there were a few parts of the massage that gave me the willies due to my own tactile defensiveness, I felt like the overall massage showed good face validity in light of what I already knew. My husband, in a phrase I never thought I would hear, said that he did not feel confident doing the massage on his baby because he still felt the baby would be a "porcelain doll" and was afraid it might hurt him. I think a larger reference to the research might have helped assuage his safety concerns.

Next, we watched the First Year Milestones DVD. Aimee described the purpose of this video to empower parents to be more vigilant about their child's development. She stressed that parents should not overreact to the exact timeframe of the milestone, but that they should be able to discuss what the baby can and cannot do with their physician and the importance of early intervention if there is a delay. The video was broken up well with menus to skip to the appropriate age range.

This video is considerably longer than the massage video, so I could only get my husband to watch the newborn section. This section again has a sensory processing base, and was primarily devoted to reflexes (which makes sense given the age of the child). The newborn section was very distracting to me because much of the video footage was done during a photo shoot, so there were repeated camera flashes. The audio and visual for this section could have been better coordinated as well. Watching this video before the infant massage would have been helpful since it was more in-depth than the developmental review in front of the massage video.

In the 3-12 month sections, this video really begins to shine. The skills Aimee discusses are really well illustrated in the videos of the different children. The developmental exercises that are discussed are pretty easy to do and Aimee gives suggestions for how to incorporate them into the day. I really appreciated that she gave a specific time range for tummy time at various points, because I have seen in my EI work that parents really have no idea how much time to shoot for (if they are aware that tummy time is necessary to start with). These sections were really well paced and developed and would be very beneficial to anyone looking to learn more about development. Some of the terminology may be a little over the head of a layperson but did accompany a video demonstration of whatever was being discussed.

My husband described the video as "very educational" and found the video footage of same-age babies to be helpful in understanding the developmental concepts. He stated that the video was helpful and made him feel more informed as a first time parent. He also mentioned that this was presented like a class, and might be good as part of a new parent class at a hospital or pediatrician's office.

I thought that the developmental video would actually even be helpful in a college level pediatrics class to illustrate the concepts discussed. We had photos and a day or two where we observed our instructor interacting with an infant, but a video would have been a valuable addition. The video would also be helpful for practitioners switching into pediatrics. With a little tweaking and adding footage of abnormal development, this video could be re-edited to really focus on educating OT professionals, but it is a valuable resource as is.

SUMMARY The Aimee's Babies DVDs would be helpful for new parents in learning more about development and appropriate ways to interact with your child. I think that the developmental DVD should be a prerequisite to learning the massage, so giving both together would be a good idea. Prices are comparable or better to similar products, so that shouldn't be a problem. I'm excited to see the future of the Aimee's Babies line, as she has announced plans for toddler and preschooler videos.

GIVEAWAY!! To help share the love during OT month, I will be sending out the Developmental Milestones DVD to one lucky winner chosen at random. This would be great for a student, new parent, or anyone interested in better understanding the first year of development. All you have to do to be eligible is Like the Occupational Therapy Notes Facebook Page before next Friday, April 26, at 10pm Eastern time. The winner will need to send me their address by 10am Monday morning or a new winner will be drawn- I'm having a baby and can't afford to wait around!

I got the Baby Massage video at a discount during an Aimee's Babies promotion, and received the Developmental Milestones video for free. All opinions are my own, except where my husband's are noted, and I was not compensated or influenced.


What a great week!

I'm going to break my Tuesdays-only rule for a Friday post because this has been an awesome week!

First, I was the featured interview this week for Abby's blog (Notes from a Pediatric OT) in her OT's Perspective series. Be sure to check that out, but be prepared, I'm my usual wordy self. There are also some  pictures that you may not have seen before, including one that features my swan neck deformity, lol. Be sure to add Abby's blog to your list of good reading to follow!

Then, before I even got to return to my normalcy, I also got to pop up on the AOTA Checking the Pulse blog! Stephanie Y is doing an 'Appy April feature where AOTA members get to describe a favorite app and how it helps them. I discussed how I use the Due Today app on my phone (combined with ToodleDo on my computer) to keep up to date on all my to-dos. 

Teaser alert- if you like info on how to get organized, I do have a more explanatory post of some of my methods with pictures coming up in early May, so watch for that!

Additional teaser- I finished my video presentation for the AOTA conference! If you can't go to the conference, you will be able to catch our whole presentation streaming online, just pay attention on twitter for details. I will also have a blog post that week that goes into a bit more detail on some things, because we have already established that I am wordy.

Have a great weekend!


Don't be like me

I get requests for advice from students or new practitioners every now and then via email. One thing I would like to say is "Don't be like me." Don't take this as self-depreciating, I know I have lots of good qualities. I tried hard in school and am a hard worker, I try to keep learning whenever possible and be creative and respectful with all my clients. But there are a lot of job-related decisions that I've made that I would hope other people could learn from.

- Don't think you need tunnel vision focus in school Though I am proud to say that I no longer get confused with a high school student, people are still often shocked when we have talked about my schooling in relation to my age. They can't understand how I got a masters degree and did x,y,z before n age. The short answer is that I was very driven and focused during school. My mom does career counseling and when I was tossing up architecture and OT she knew nothing would transfer between the degrees and that no university near us offered both. So she pushed me to do a lot of job shadowing and research to figure out which I wanted to do. I became one of the few people in the world who didn't ever change majors in college, and by the nature of a 2+3 program got my BA and MOT in 5 years. But there are things I didn't do in that process. I only got to play softball one year in college. I didn't get to do any study abroad or really awesome summer programs. I went in with blinders and finished on time, and while I excelled at that, I think that people should act on the opportunities that they really want (within reason), especially while they're in college. So while this method will definitely get you through school on time, it certainly doesn't have to be the only way.

- Don't apply for only one job When I started applying for jobs out of school I figured that people would take a little time to get back to me and I'd have time to put in several applications, go on a few interviews, and choose the best from that group. Things moved much faster than I anticipated after I put in that first application and while I felt it would have been acceptable to ask for a couple days to consider the offer, I couldn't very well ask for a week or two to put in other applications.

- Don't allow work to overshadow everything else When we moved to Baltimore for the sole reason of me working in a big place and experiencing that kind of environment, work (and travel to work) started dominating my life. I wound up (as many salaried workers do) working more than a standard 8 hour day, working through lunch to catch up, and even working at home in the evenings to stay caught up. While we made time for a lot of fun things, the day to day life was exhausting and completely unbalanced. We ate out all the time and hardly ever got any time outdoors to exercise or even exist. We barely had time for each other during the week. We very rarely saw our families. It was not a sustainable situation and reflected very poor occupational balance.

- Don't work for free Along the same line as above, if you value yourself, you can't work for free. Don't write evals after hours. Don't stick around and do extra notes. If you have work that needs to get done, find a way to get it done during your workday and get reimbursed for your time. Also, don't bankrupt yourself buying fun treatment materials.

- Don't interview or work burned out Burn out is a real thing, especially in the "caring" fields. Being stressed and emotionally overloaded doesn't make for a good worker and that can get reflected while interviewing for a new job too. Take steps to prevent burn out to start with, but make sure that you take time for yourself before you begin representing yourself to new people. It will also help you give fresher answers.

- Don't take a job that is a major stretch from your interests Sometimes, though you could imagine a way to make a situation work, it's just not a good fit. And if you know it's not a good fit, or there's red flags to indicate that it isn't going to work long term, just don't take that job.

- Don't change jobs while buying a house This is a major life lesson that I had no idea about. There were a lot of tears when we realized this was going to cause a problem, despite the fact that I was changing to a job with more hours and higher hourly pay. I ended up having to hold onto an unpleasant job longer than I wanted to, but fortunately didn't lose the other opportunity.

- Don't be afraid to try something new It can be a scary world out there and breaking out of your comfort zone into a new field is tough. There's a lot of work to catch yourself up into a new practice area. But it can be very worthwhile and you shouldn't let fear hold you back as long as you're willing to do the work and think that it will align well with your interests. OT Practice and OT Connections have had resources for changing practice settings, and it can be done successfully.

- Don't expect the worst This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Be optimistic and positive when starting something new instead of constantly worrying about the end game.

- Don't get desperate during a search Last fall, I started to get really depressed at the length and lack of results with my job search. I had offers after that and could have had a full-time placement but it very clearly wouldn't have been a good fit long-term. By sticking with my other work, finances remained stable, and I was able to wait on a better offer instead of jumping at the first life raft.

- Don't start a new job late in pregnancy You can totally interview for a job and get a new job while pregnant, there's no rule that says you have to disclose a pregnancy to a potential employer and there are a number of discrimination protections. But in the same way that being your best person is difficult when you're burnt out, I've found it difficult to really hit the ground running in a new environment when I am not physically capable of running. I didn't have to worry about the effect this change would have on insurance or FMLA eligibility due to the nature of this job, but that could be another factor for you to consider. And while my prn jobs have coworkers who have known me a long time and are very accommodating and helpful, starting in a new place means starting relationships from the beginning, and people will be less likely to offer their assistance for the little things.

- Don't be afraid to ask for what you want Sometimes, I am too quick to write off a situation. But you always have the ability to ask for different hours, pay, or other flexibility. The worst that can happen is that your boss or potential employer can say no. But if you don't ask for what you want, you won't know what can happen. One small (but frequently occurring) example is naming your salary. Sometimes women have a tendency to be too nice and want to meet an employer in the middle instead of standing up and saying what you want. By forcing myself to have a bit of a backbone, my salary requests were usually exceeded, not just met.

- Don't neglect your life plan This is where I am at right now. I don't have a five year plan at the moment. I have never had a fully articulated plan anyway, I've had multiple possibilities that could work and also had new doors open that weren't part of my original considerations. But in general, I think it is admirable to have a plan (if only a vague one) and make sure that the opportunities that you accept align with it.

Obviously you can make these mistakes and still survive or even thrive in the OT workforce. There's clearly varying degrees of how much of a mistake the different things have been, and learning from them is essential. I wouldn't be who I am as a practitioner or a person without my mistakes. Do you have a mistake to share?


#10minTues- Virtual (and free!) Baby Shower

This is a great fun time for me, smack dab between baby showers put on by my family and church family. Things are really coming together to prepare for the baby and it's quite exciting!

I love my readers and I'm so often impressed by their own blogs and information that you share. So now I'm asking you to participate in a virtual baby shower for me, in a way that is quick, easy and free!

Please use the comments to share your advice related to being a new parent, balancing career and family, or anything baby/therapy related. What do you wish you would have known? Please share below!