20 June, 2014

World OT Congress #3

The disaster preparedness workshop that I began my day with.
Fascinating stuff, read about it below.
This event has been an interesting experience. I'm reminded again of what I felt when I left uni. That Occupational Therapy isn't so much what you do and know, it is how you think. They spent four years training us to think like OTs. 

A couple of core OT skills are problem solving within the current context and drawing on resources you have already available to you. Another is looking at the world in terms of occupation. Occupation being anything that people do, and particularly OTs are concerned with every day occupation. When people encounter limitations like injury or disease they are often driven back to the basics of living, and even taking care of themselves, doing "Activities of Daily Living" (or ADL) become hard.

Even though I no longer have a strong work identity as an OT, I still think like one. I'm a problem solver. Someone who's concerned about people's independence. Someone who sees environmental limitations and ergonomic problems earlier than other people.

Gotta love Japanese convenience stores. Here was my lunch. Cost less than
500 yen (under AU$5). Not only tuna/crab salad, but rice "ball", OJ, and
convenient hand wipes that I didn't even ask for.
This conference has huge proportions. During most time slots from 8.30 to 6pm there are at least 16 choices of things that you could do or listen to. The interesting feeling for me is that this is a bit like being back at uni, except that you aren't obligated to be at anything. No one is keeping track, there will be no exams. So at any time you'll find people not in sessions, if there's nothing that attracts their interest.

There are so many people. Over 5,000. The closest I've come to meeting someone I know is someone who happened to mention a colleague in her speech the other day. That colleague I lived with for three years, but haven't seen since I graduated nearly 20 years ago. Amazing!
The very enormous programme that you
almost need a degree to negotiate your way
through and definitely need an OT degree
to comprehend.

There is at least one of my old lecturers here, but I haven't seen her, I only know she's supposed to be here because her name appears several times in the programme, the inch-thick programme. Such are the proportions that there is no way to guarantee meeting someone unless you have their email address or phone number and arrange to meet.

But for my OT friends who want to know. Here is what I saw of the conference today.

I attended an hour and a half workshop about disaster preparedness. It was fascinating. We had OTs in the room from many recent major disasters: Sri Lanka's tsunami, Philippines' typhoon, Christchurch's earthquakes, Japan's tsunami, US hurricane Katrina etc. We spent time in groups talking about what we'd do in a hypothetical disaster: what we'd pack immediately, what we'd do 3 weeks later in a temporary housing situation etc.  It was interesting to note what OTs thought of packing that others might not, including diversional-type activities, like cards, puppets, assistive devices etc. But also looking out for the most vulnerable and noticing that some will have trouble accessing the bathrooms, getting up off mattresses on the floor etc.

It was quite enlightening to realise how much insight I have into this now, having experienced the events of 2011. Others in the group were fascinated to hear from people who'd lived here at that time and what it was like to experience earthquakes. Even though We weren't close to the epicentre.

Later in the day I went to a couple of sessions about children. The topics included 
  • comparing the HST and DASH (handwriting assessments) checking their reliability (and yes they are reliable), and also looking at hand pain.
  • goal directed intervention with children with disabilities: quite effective.
  • evidence based approaches for children with DCD.
    • this was interesting. It was a national project by the Dutch and they've definitely come up with the recommendation that CO-OP and not Sensory Integration is the way to go according to the data available.
  • ASD – have more difficulty following the gaze of others
  • ASD and sensory stimulus (I had trouble concentrating on this. It was by a Japanese OT, but in English, so I'm not really sure what her conclusions were.)
In actual fact I find that this conference attending is a bit of a lottery, even at such a prestigious event. The quality of  presentations varies considerably. All you have to decide on whether or not you'll go is a single line of text and the name of the presenter. Some have surprised me, others disappointed.

Tomorrow we have a Keynote speaker: a Nobel Laurette! A Japanese author who won the nobel prize for literature in 1994. I wonder what he has to say to a large gathering of OTs?

I'm off to bed. We've received some exciting news tonight, but I'll leave you in suspense for now about that!

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