22 June, 2014

World OT Congress #4

Another photo of the programme, it is nearly
an inch thick!
Yesterday was the last day of the OT Congress and I was able to get home by dinner time (by skipping the last session and the closing ceremony).

From 11.30-12.30 we had a Keynote Lecture from a Literature Nobel Prize winner, Mr Oe. His talk, in his own words, was "haphazard" but interesting. He made us laugh! Whenever a speaker is not afraid to make fun of themselves, that is always attractive!

After lunch was a Public Symposium with three former OT clients and an OT. All Japanese people. Two of the clients had spinal injuries and the third a stroke at the age of 40. All three are now working in the health-care sector. They each told their stories and encouraged us in how OTs had made a significant difference in their lives, particularly in giving them a spark to move onwards rather than consider life as over. They were lively and entertaining. It was refreshing after much serious talk over the previous four days. 

I appreciated the simultaneous translation very much for this Symposium because talking in their native language made them more relaxed. I appreciate the effort that those presenters who don't have English as their native language made to present throughout the week in English, however, it didn't always make for easy listening.

To give you an idea visually of how huge this Congress was, this is the programme of oral sessions for Friday. Across the top are the times, starting at 8.30, so you can see that for each time slot you and up to 16 choices you could make, each box representing a session that included between 3 and 7 presentations. 

On top of that was about 400-500 posters per day in an exhibition hall (where researchers stand with a poster detailing their work and are available for discussion with whoever passes by).

What really stands out is how broad a profession OT is. The broad specialities include: paediatrics, physical disabilities, elderly, mental health, community and participation, education, disaster, theory and research.

It underlines again to me how difficult it is to define easily what an Occupational Therapist is. I've always found it easiest to define it by giving examples of the types of work and people we deal with.
Other presentations (the more interesting ones) I heard in the morning included:

  • Robotics for the mobilisation of infants
    • this study looked at providing a way for infants younger than 12 months to gain self directed mobility using wheels, noting that most developmentally challenged children don't get "wheels" until 4 or older, which means they miss that window of exploration of their environment
    • they put normally developing babies who weren't yet crawling (5-9.5 months) in a plastic seat, some with a long joy stick, others seated on a Wii balance board and watched to see how they managed in getting to things they wanted.
    • the Wii balance board (called WeeBot) won over the joy stick. 
    • one funny thing about this one was that the researchers had a remote control that they could use if the baby went someone they didn't want the baby to go. How many parents have wished for a remote control for their crawler?
    • This session just proved the point that topics that don't look all that interesting can be really good, if they are presented well, and the opposite was also true: that topics that looked great could turn out to be disasters because of bad presentation (often too much statistical data and bad visuals, plus bad English).
  • Sexual education for disabled young people
  • I walked a lot this week, more than 5km
    a day. It was a delight to see hydrangeas that are
    still flowering, though it is getting to the end
    of that season.
    • another session that I wouldn't have attended if it hadn't been grouped with some others I wanted to see. 
    • Turned out to be fairly interesting, their findings were too much to give a lot of details, but basically they found that disabled children need sex ed, both the usual classroom-variety, plus disability-specific information.
    • They found that health care providers are a good choice for the people who provide this disability-specific information.
    • Timing: the funnel principle works—start early and give information gradually at appropriate times.
  • Are children with DCD and ADHD at risk for obesity and poor fitness?—a cross-cultural study involving the US, Australia and Israel. Answer: yes
  • A study looking at using the iPad to improve handwriting skills with ASD children.
    • Using "Ready to Print" software, they found a clinically significant improvement in VMI and handwriting scores in only a few weeks (?12).
  • Using coaching to help parents of ASD children with their parenting skills.
    • quite effective as a strategy. Interesting, that even when the parents didn't meet their goals, they felt more effective in their parenting. 
Well, that is quite a lot, but that is the end of my reporting back on this congress. From tomorrow I'm back on the wagon of preparing to leave the country for a year. This time next week we'll be in the air on our way back. We've got few things to do before then...

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