Putting on and taking off your socks and shoes. That’s something most of us do every day without much effort or thought. But some children need help with such “skills of everyday living” and that’s where an occupational therapist becomes a valuable member of the care team.
“Occupational therapists help children improve skills that allow them to play, fully participate in school activities, take care of themselves and, basically, just be kids,” said occupational therapist Brittany Holmes.
On a recent day, Holmes was working with 7-year-old Angelee Risden, who had a surgery called selective dorsal rhizotomy to help lessen the effects of cerebral palsy.
At a recent session, the close rapport between Brittany and Angelee was evident. In between tips to help Angelee pull on her socks – “make wrinkles and pull them out” – Brittany and Angelee discussed her love of Taylor Swift and her less than equal enthusiasm for Justin Bieber.
Angelee’s feisty personality came through with her frequent use of phrases like “Whatever!” and “You’ve got to be kidding me!” But so did the difficulty of the task at hand.
Angelee tired during the second round of putting on her socks, braces and shoes but Brittany offered encouragement by telling her things like the sound of Velcro opening her shoes was the “sound of success,” and asking rhetorically, “How can we work smarter, not harder?”
The hour-long session ended with a celebration of play in which Angelee climbed into a tire swing and crawled through a play tunnel. But what seemed like a fun reward to Angelee was actually more therapy to help stretch and strengthen arms, legs and core.
April is Occupational Therapy Month. Be sure to thank your favorite OT.