Thursday, 17 May 2012

assistive technology

This is my final post for the Participation in Occupation paper.

According to Verdonck & Ryan (2008) technology is becoming a daily meaningful occupation and therefore can be used as a therapy tool. It can be used to improve a person’s functional independence. Assistive Technology is the "Technological devices designed to enable active engagement or participation in occupations through energy conservation, accommodation for diverse physical abilities, or compensation for functional limitations or disability” (Christensen & Townsend, 2010, p. 417).  In basic terms, assistive technology is the name given to an item or device that improves a persons abilities. (woop woop go assistive technology!)
Assistive technology is the name given to an item or device which improves a person’s functional and abilities.

My personal interpretation of that, is that assistive technology is devices used by those with disabilities to maintain or increase their abilities. this can be modifying an already existing piece of equipment or an invention of a totally new one.

A piece of equipment that I have mentioned a particular liking for and that is a form of assistive technology is the iPad.

The iPad is a tablet computer designed and developed by Apple. It is particularly marketed as a platform for audio and visual media such as books, periodicals, movies, music, and games, as well as web content.
Look at the following link to learn about some of the iPads specs

From the Apple support website we can see that the iPad is a good size and weight to be a portable assistive device. The iPad is wireless and has a ten hour battery. This means that it can be moved around and used throughout a whole day without having to be connected to a plug to function fully. 

The iPad provides the opportunity for increased occupational engagement for disabled users. an example of this is the use of an iPad as a communications device through applications that augment speech, and convert text and pictures to speech such as the proloquo2go application. This is a link to proloquo2go application and what it does.
Here is a video about proloquo2go

For some clients the iPad may provide the difference between communicating with the outside world and being enclosed within their own mind (Brandon, 2009).

Another example is the use of The iPad can to improve fine motor skills in clients through the use of the iPad itself by interacting with it and also specifically tailored applications such as dexteria. This video shows the uses of the application

This can lead to the increased readiness for handwriting skills in both children and adults. There are also interactive applications that focus on handwriting skills and letter recognition too.
Here is a video of a man with limited hand function and how he uses the iPad to write and also other apps he finds useful.

iPads can aid in prevent occupational deprivation. Occupational deprivation is 'A prolonged preclusion from engagement in occupations of necessity or meaning due to factors outside the control of an individual such as through geographical isolation, incarceration or disability.' (Christiansen & Townsend, 2010 p. 421). iPads can help with occupational deprivation in a way that it lets individuals participate in occupations. For example being able to use the iPad to communicate with others is a huge step in over coming occupational deprivation. Individuals who use the communication applications can get a say in what happens to them, what they would like to do and give them an opportunity to participate in socializing in a new way.

So to conclude, technology can be used as a therapy tool and can be used to improve a person’s functional independence. The use of the iPad has the potential to extend the abilities of individuals, positively impact on their ability to communicate and aid in reducing occupational deprivation.

Ciao for now!! :)


Brandon, J. (2009). Is the iPad a ‘miracle device’ for autism?. Fox News. Retrieved May 17 from:

Christiansen, C. & Townsend, E. (2010). Introduction to occupation: The Art of Science and Living (2nd ed.). USA: Pearson, p.177.

Verdonck, M.C., & Ryan, . (2008). Mainstream technology as an occupational therapy tool: technophobe or technogeek?. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(6), 253-256.

Blogs of Interest

For this task I searched to find blogs that are of interest to me as an Occupational Therapy student. I have attached below the links to these Blogs
This blog is about understanding through reflection and helps OT students make sense of life and studies. It has heaps of useful information around the use of Models (e.g CMOP).

This is a blog of a fellow student who has, amoungst her required blog, some interesting information around animals and their role in therapy.
This is about the musings of an OT about her profession, the future and everyday successes. It is an interesting read.
This is a blog that follows a Master of Occupational therapy student. It chronicles her journey throughout education and her experiences of it!

I commented on Amanda's Blog in relation to an interesting post about Hippotherapy. This can be viewed here.

Online communities

Let the post begin!

Stroke patients were a common site in my first placement. I have looked into three communities for those with stroke.

Stroke survivor blog
The introduction to this blog sums up its purpose. “The purpose of this blog is to share how a stroke affected our lives, and how through our stroke recovery experience, stroke survivors, stroke victims, caregivers and others might find peace, hope and encouragement ”. Looking through this site, I have found it a great source of information’s around strokes. IT shows a individuals experience of stroke and how it impacted on the person and the family. There are over 350 comments on this blog with people sharing their stories and offering their support to one another. This blog give good insight into how stroke impact on your life and all other relevant information around strokes.

Why would people choose to contribute to this community?
Stroke survivor blog allows people to come together over the topic of stroke and share their experiences and advice. It is not directed at just the stroke patients themselves but is also directed to the family and what they go through too. People would contribute to this community as it is directed at both the stroke individual and the family. It offers ways of dealing with problems through others experiences.

How is information shared?
It is shared much the same as I am sharing with you now. The information is sent out in posts and people comment on it showing their support, understanding and experience with each other.

Stroke Foundation New Zealand Inc.
This online community is the organization known as the stroke foundation; it aims at reducing the incidence of stroke and improving the outcome of individuals with stroke by providing information and advice around services available. It is also a non profit organization. Looking on the site, it promotes the awareness of stroke and research into health outcomes! The webiste allows individual interaction with the site through the access to support groups, linking to other websites related to stroke and even gives you an option of making a donation or if you are really keen becoming a sponsor.

Why would people to choose to contribute to this community?
It is a very well known community and often people are referred to this website to gain a better understanding of all aspects of stroke. Being apart of this community allows individuals to keep up to date with what is being done in the stroke community- such as different approaches to rehabilitation and the promotion of better heatlh outcomes.

How is information shared?
The website offers a latest news feed for those who are within this community to see what is new on the site. Individuals in the community cannot make direct comments on the page like the pervious mentioned community could. But, there are numbers to call and people to email to receive more information. In a sense it is quite a closed community.

Stroke recovery blog
Here is another blogging community. It is aimed to help those who have had a stroke and provide some support. It offers advice on equipment that enhances peoples abilities in everyday occupations. It has links to other blogs and communities around strokes.

Why would people to choose to contribute to this community?
This community allows people to share their experiences with stroke much like the first community. It provides a basis for looking into similar communities. It provides information around the technology and research around stroke. Those who participate in the blog can share their experiences and knowledge both as a patient and affected family members. People will come to this community to seek information and education. It can be used to edcucate and inform oneself on issues around stroke.

How is information shared?
Information is shared through blog form. The community can contribute to the blog through comments and asking/answering questions.

Please feel free to take a 2 minute break to watch this video about a tetraplegic woman who used thought to control a robotic arm!! or do whatever else you do in intermissions!
Part Two.

How do these webiste relate to occupational transition and deprivation?
In my video post, I covered occupational deprivation.  To refresh your memories, Occupatoinal deprivation refers to a state of exclusion from engaging in certain occupationsl due to external factors that are out of control of the individual (Christiansen and Townsend, 2010)
Occupation transition is a new term on my blog. A quote from Christiansen and Townsend (2010) states that is is “ Circumstances creating a change in the nature or type of occupational engagement pursued by or available to an individual. Such transitions may be the result of choice, changes in physical or mental status, life transitions, geographical change, geopolitical strife, or other factors” (pg 421)

The two blogs Stroke recovery blog and the Stroke survivor blog relate to occupational deprivation in the sense that they share stories around their experience around it to eachother on the blogs. It allows them a chance to express themselves in a like minded community and can open up opportunities for others in the community to express their similar experiences or their knowledge around it.
In a different view, members of these communities may be older and lack the specific knowledge to use a computer/search engine resulting in occupational deprivation for them in the sense of these online communities being inaccessible to them.

Both the stroke recover and stroke survivor blogs have aspects of occupational transition. They have information on the transition of pre stroke to post stroke in individuals. They inform individuals of the changes that occur and how this can impact them. It give individuals a place to go to converse with others about their experiences of their transitions, which can make transitioning an easier process due to support.

Ethical issues
With writing on blogs, that information becomes useable to anyone who has access to the blog. There is also a chance that others can copy what you publish on blogs without your permission and used in ways you did not intend it to be.
Also with blogging and websites, it is important to understand that not all the information posted is correct. It can be very much up to the subjective sway of the writer. It is always important to consult doctors and professionals before taking on treatment ideas that can sometimes be suggested in online communities, as the doctor is the expert.

Benefits and limitations compared to traditional geographical communities.
An obvious benefit of being connected through online communities is the access to information an knowledge via a very easy portal; the computer. In some places geographical support may not be easy to access.
It provides the means to express yourself and connect with others through written form. This allows those who have difficulty getting on with people or communicating an equal opportunity to participate. Also with the the lack of face to face it can lead to the online community being more free of judgement that can occur in geographical communities.
Those who cannot leave their home will still have access to support through online communities.
The information on the blogs is open to the subjectivity of the writers, in a geographical community support group there is more likely to be a deeper justification around the services they offer. On the websites people can suggest ideas but it does not mean they will work or are recommended.
Meeting with people and being able to share a conversation in real time with someone can be very beneficial. The use of just online communities can reduce this as no human interaction is required.
As previously mentioned another limitation is around access to and knowledge around using an online community. In a geographical support group you can show up and become part of a community relatively easier.


Woopsies not fin..

Christiansen, C. H., & Townsend, E. A. (2010). Introduction to Occupation (2 ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Videos on equipment

In placement in my first year of occupational therapy, I was allocated to the city Invercargill in an A, T & R unit. The placement offered rehabilitation and treatment services to those with strokes, hip and knee replacements, fractured neck of femurs, amputees, cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD). Much of our intervention was around educating the patients around energy conservation through the use of adaptive equipment. I am going to provide in this blog post some of the adaptive equipment we applied to a range of conditions in the A, T & R unit. 

Here is a video about a shower chair.

This video covers a lot of aspect around shower chairs, such as what types there are, how to use one, and safety precautions around the use of the chair. Shower chairs were constantly being supplied to our patients as fatigue whilst showering was a major issue for most due to the symptoms of their conditions.

This is a video about raised toilet.
This video shows the use of a plinth in the bathroom that raises the toilet seat height up. This means the individual using it does not have to bend as far as you normally would to use it.

This is a video about how to use a walker
This video discusses the use of a walker in relation to what types there are, the safety precautions around the use and also the correct technique of walking with a walker.

This video is about transfer boards
This video covers transfers from one sitting position to another. In the case of my placement, we would sometimes use bath transfer boards to transfer a patient from a wheelchair to the bath/shower.

This last video is about equipment in the kitchen
This video covers a range of assistive devices and adaptive equipment that focuses on providing safe movement around the kitchen.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Occupational deprivation video

As a part of our participation in occupation paper, we created a video on using a video recording device and video editing software. We sat around in our video production group and discussed what we wanted to focus on and decided on occupational deprivation in relation to how one with an impairment resulting in the use of wheelchair could be excluded and deprived from doing certain occupations. Occupational deprivation refers to external situations and environments that prevent an individual participating or enjoying an occupation over an extended period of time (Christiansen & Townsend, 2010). We came up for ideas around how we could portray occupational deprivation for a wheelchair user and what locations we would like to film in. We split into two groups, one for filming and one for producing the slides and other pieces we wanted to incorporate into our short film. There was a point in the film making where I realized the gravity of the situation in being in a wheelchair in the case of a fire. The wheelchair user (if up flights of stairs) would have to stay up on the landing until the fire crew or warden could come and get them. Not a nice thought. We recorded all the sessions then edited them with iMovie editing software to create the film you just viewed!

Christensen, C., & Townsend, E. A. (2010). Introduction to Occupation: The art and of living. (2nd Edn) New Jersey: Pearson.

Doing, being, becoming and belonging.

I have chosen cooking, preparing and sharing meals to cover in my powerpoint. This BBC documentary discusses what cooking is and how what we eat and how we eat it has impacted on being human. If you have an hour to spare you should watch this documentary to learn about "Did cooking make us human?"

If you do not have an hour to spare, Michael Rhulman brings up some interesting points around what cooking is and what it has accomplished that are also covered in the clip above, but in four minutes!

I chose to discuss cooking as I saw it in both my first year placements. Cooking assessments and activities are a component of mainstream occupational therapy practice. There are formalized assessments that have been well documented in the OT literature (Baum and Edwards, 1993) There are also many informal assessments and uses of cooking activities used in practice. Cooking has been used with children, adults and older adults and across practice areas.
Here is a link to an occupational therapists blog that discusses her uses of cooking therapy with her clients.

I should begin by defining the term "Doing". According to Hammell (2004) "Doing" refers to the concept of carrying out goal orientated, purposeful activities. People spend most of their time doing meaningful, purposeful activities.  As we all know cooking can be something we feel we must do (in order to eat and therefore survive) or it can be something we want to do (for leisure). In both cases the task of cooking is still a purposeful activity, the goal is to produce a product.

Images one through to seven in the slideshow demonstrate the art of doing through cooking. Each photo shows someone doing a cooking task or the product achieved by doing the task.

According to Wilcock (1998), "Being" refers to the “self” and the “essence” of the person. This can can be facilitated through occupational engagement such as cooking. The perception of "being" ranges from appreciating a moment to the deeper experiencing of our inner selves.

Images eight to twelve identify "Being". For example, slide eleven captures the essence (being) of a child enjoying the moment in a cooking task.

"Becoming" refers to the idea that people can in-vision themselves becoming something in the future, and exploring new opportunities (Hammell, 2004).

Images thirteen to fifteen show my understanding of becoming. The images are based on students who are being taught skills in the art of cooking. This to me is becoming as they have in-visioned cooking to be apart of their future and are taking steps to make this happen by exploring the opportunities available to them.

Lastly "Belonging" refers to the sense of being included, and having mutual support and friendship (Hammell, 2004). Belonging can contribute to the meaningfulness and pleasure of "doing".

Images fifteen to twenty show my understanding of belongingness.
In image fifteen and seventeen they are depicting very different types of communities and how cooking and sharing a meal includes them all together and shows the mutual support of the community, or in the case of image seventeen it shows friendship.
Images seventeen to twenty depict the same  feeling of support, inclusion and friendship but in a family environment.


Baum, C., & Edwards, D. (1993). Cognitive performance in senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type: The kitchen task assessment. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 47, 431-436
Evolutionary documentary. (2012, January 12). Did cooking make us human? [video file]. Retrieved from
Hammell, K. (2004). Dimensions of meaning in the occupations of daily life.  Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71 (5). 
Rhulman, M. (2010, October 15). On the importance of cooking [Video file]. Retrieved from

Wilcock, A. (1998).  Reflections on doing, being becoming.  Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65, 248-256.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Tutorial One- Information Technology and Ethical Issues.

Let us begin this Blog properly and in orderly fashion by an introduction. Hello and welcome to my Blog, My name is Hannah and I am a second year Occupational Therapy student a the Otago Polytechnic. This Blog is part of a  paper and is being used to assess my ability to produce a online resource package! 

My first post will cover the topic of information technology and the ethical issues. This post will cover the definitions, prevalence and commonplace in society, and my use of information technology (IT). I will also describe information technology in the field of occupational therapy and the ethics surrounding information technology.

The best place to begin is with a definition (That may not be the case in all situations but hey, its perfect for now!). According to my trusty dictionary, Information technology refers to the use of computers and electronic technology to store and communicate information (Collins, 2006). Techterms (2012) discussed that this encompasses any communication device or application, such as the television, mobiles phones, radios, internet, satellites, networks…. The list goes on.
My own view on info tech is that it is a vast network of applications and devices that allow us to communicate and share information. We no longer have to rely on face to face encounters to talk or share information and the time of the string can phone are definitely over! The broad arrange of technology portal allows us to receive gargantuan amounts of information at the touch of our fingertips. Literally.

Technology cannot easily be avoided in this day and age, adjusting with new and upcoming technology is a way to move forward and keep up with the times. It has become a fixture in everyday life from allowing instant communication with others to banking, shopping and even working. I can imagine the foreignness and amazement at information technology as it began to expand, but now it is commonplace. I know that for those in my generation information technology is prevalent in our home, work and social life. Turning to Facebook for a chat or to Google for knowledge comes as easily as breathing does to most.

How did we learn to use this technology in the first place?

Flashing back to the 90s where denim on denim and scrunchies were deemed acceptable by society, I remember the school computer labs where I learnt the basics of typing, Internet searching and the wonders of email. As I progressed from primary to secondary school, IT classes where compulsory for the first two years and then available to me as I continued through my education. All throughout my education I have been given the opportunity to advance in my knowledge and use of Information Technology. Whilst school played a large part in building a firm grounding in the uses of IT, IT sold itself through its efficiency and ease of being able to communicate and share information. IT developments opened endless possibilities for people to find others who have similar interests as them, no matter how far away. Online communities, such as Facebook groups, allow users to find one another and provide a space for them to discuss topics that are meaningful to them. IT offers interpersonal use in the same way as face-to-face communication does, but also the opportunity to engage in entertainment and knowledge. It is understandable how information technology has become so commonplace and prevalent in society. It offers society and easier and more efficient way of communicating and learning. It is in interesting to think that if information technology were a disease or illness we would have a pandemic on our hands.

I personally feel at home with almost all Information technology. Currently stuck in an “I love everything Apple” phase, my engagement in IT began a long time ago. From a young age I was interested in computers and phones. I used to be so fascinated and thrilled with the concept that I could pick up a phone and call someone hours away. I spent hours (unfortunately at the benefit of my parents phone bill) making toll calls to random people all over New Zealand. As Information technology became more advanced, I tagged along and made sure I knew the ins and outs of new software and devices. I remember transitioning between the stages from old desktops to laptops and ipads. As a teenager and now, social media is my most used piece of information technology. I use it more than my phone due it being free and that most people, though they will deny, check it religiously throughout the day. My comfortableness with the information technology I use expands my ability to learn about the world around me and communicate with others.
As an Occupational therapy student, being able to use the Internet and knowing the ins and outs of computer processing is important, as a decent chunk of our workload is online. The Internet offers me, as a student, the ability to obtain a large amount of knowledge pertaining to my field of study and expand on theories taught in class. This Blog in itself is a use of IT, and is marked as part of an assignment. In a social sense IT allows me to socialise and maintain relationships with people I no longer see on a day-to-day basis. Lastly it allows me to understand and learn more, which aids me in defining myself. Over all it allows or aids me in engaging in occupations that I find meaningful.

In occupational therapy practice, IT is an everyday tool; it is used for research, ordering equipment and for allowing people to participate in occupations. I can see that IT will be incorporated more into OT practice as the benefits become more apparent. As I mentioned before I am in an extreme Apple phase so this post would not be complete and would be horrendously unsatisfactory to the "Macgeek" in me if I did not mention the Ipad. The use of tools such as the Ipad allows individuals to participate in numerous occupations. These two videos show some of the apps available that OTs can use with their clients.

This video mentioned some apps that would be useful to OTs. It mentioned an app called the Locabulary. It allows people who are deaf to communicate by tapping on the customizable phrases allowing the app to speak for them. This app is a good way for deaf people to be able to communicate when the need assistance.

The second video had and app that would be a useful therapeutic tool for individuals with limited range of motion and stiffness in their hands.

Multiple devices such as Ipads, Iphones, Wii, wireless controls and other assistive technologies can be used in an Occupational therapist repertoire to provide meaningful occupations to clients.
Some issues can arise from using IT tools and systems in OT. Whilst it may look like a useful tool, OTs have to be sure that it is actually aiding the client. Things that look flashy and useful do not guarantee that they will do what is required. Also, as with most technologies, they are constantly upgrading. This could be costly to the department if upgrading is a frequent expense. Another issue with IT in OT is that there can be large amounts of training and understanding required to incorporate IT into practice, which could be frustrating and time consuming for OTs to learn.

I believe that a greater understanding and use of IT will help OTs in their practice. Without understanding IT or wanting to use it, OTs can limit their knowledge. IT is an expanding industry and OTs need to jump aboard to keep up with the times. The use of IT in OT practice is now a common, and broadens the opportunities for aiding clients. IT is now a main occupation for many clients and can be classified as important to them, therefore OTs need to be able to use and understand IT.
To finish I want to talk about the ethical implications around sharing, capturing and transferring information. The ethical implications that arise from capturing, sharing and transferring of information via IT devices is plagiarism and privacy. IT is not fail proof, hacking is not uncommon and confidential information about clients can be leaked and made public. This is a breach of trust between you and the client or the client and the practice you work for. Having resources readily available to share amongst the Internet community such as journal articles and photos can lead to others plagiarizing work that does not belong to them. It is vital that when using sources from the Internet, they are referenced and not made out to be your own. Failing to do so could land you or your practice in trouble.


Collins (2006). Collins school dictionary. Harper Collins Publishers.

Techterms. ( 2012). Infomation technology. Retrieved from

YouTube. (2011). Dexteria fine motor skill app. Retrieved on 20/04/2012 from:

YouTube. (2011). Five occupational therapy apps for iphone. Retrieved on 20/04/2012 from: