09 March 2011

I Get By With a Little Help From My (New) Friends

My new job requires A LOT of creativity.  It also requires A LOT of outside-of-the-box thinking . . . research . . . problem solving . . . making something from nothing . . . and asking those who know more than me.  Good thing I'm an Occupational Therapist, and all these requirements sort of come with the territory!

On top of seeing patients with diagnoses I've never before encountered (today's newbie Dx was: multiple upper extremity fasciotomies for compartment syndrome secondary to a snake bite . . . I finally know why I can say 'thank You, Lord, for the scorpion!' . . . yesterday's was: camel bite on the hand--NOT PRETTY!) I'm still hangin' with my new buddy Ï.  . . . the little guy learning to write left-handed.


Well, I'm happy to report that his left-handwriting is better than my right!  He's done REALLY well!!  And a special thanks to all you school-based OT's who sent tips and suggestions and who cheered me on.  I need all the help and advice (and cheerleading) I can get!

This whole 'I'm the therapy department' can be quite intimidating at times . . . like when the Chief of Surgery comes and asks my opinion on something.  I have no colleagues here to quick turn to for a second opinion.

But I do have colleagues around the world . . . and this amazing tool called the internet.

Which is where I ran this morning when I needed help with I.'s treatment session.  Remember how he goes to school?  Well, he wears closed shoes with laces as part of his uniform.  Most kids around here wear flip-flops or go barefoot, so this may be the only time I have to teach someone to tie his shoes one-handed, but so be it.

When I was in OT school, I had to teach a group of fellow students how to do something . . . didn't matter what . . . I chose one-handed shoe tying.  I did a lot of research and found a few different modified techniques that result in half a bow . . . it works . . . for old stroke patients . . . surely an 11 year old boy could learn how to tie a whole bow, regular style, with one hand!  But if he was going to learn, his OT was going to have to first figure it out in order to teach him.

Upon googling 'one handed shoe tying' I found hundreds of sites offering the same techniques I had found in 2004.  But then there was one site, by a fellow blogger, called Single-Handed Solutions.  The author has been using an upper extremity prosthesis since childhood, and she offers step-by-step how-to's of everyday tasks (such as shoe tying) with and without a prosthetic device.  This was a GREAT starting point.  The only problem, her method requires the assistance of an elbow.  Ï.'s elbow is still out of commission at the moment.

Through another search I found a (very) random blog called Cool Pictures that had step-by-step drawings of shoe tying.  Looking at the pictures, I thought 'Hey, why can't this be done one-handed??' and I picked up my sneaker and gave it a try . . . and another try . . . and a couple more.

It took about half a dozen attempts before I felt confident enough to try to demonstrate this to Ï.

Oh to have been a fly on the wall!  With my very best botched French, he and I sat in my office, side by side, each with a pink New Balance sneaker on our respective lap.  With each twist and turn of the laces by our left hands we tied those laces over and over again.

Thankfully he's a much faster learner than I am and within no time was impressing passers-by with his new-found one-handed technique.  When it came time to go back to his room to show his mom he was beaming with pride.

So Debi, wherever you are . . . THANK YOU!  A little boy in Galmi, Niger, at the edge of the Sahara desert can tie his own shoes because you've shared your expertise.

2 comments:

Debi said...

Deborah,
Thank you for taking the time to write to me... and to let me know how we empower each other! May God bless you and use you abundantly!
-Debi

Debi said...

Deborah,
Thank you for taking the time to write to me... and to let me know how we empower each other! May God bless you and use you abundantly!
-Debi