Occupational Therapy

The Six Stages of Play

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You may have heard that play is an important aspect of childhood. However, did you know that play is a tool that greatly influences a child’s life and how they make sense of the world?

A child’s goals during childhood are focused around growing, learning and playing. It is through a child’s participation in play that they learn to make sense of the world around them. It is their “job” during these critical stages of life to develop physical coordination, emotional maturity and social skills to interact with other children. They also learn to develop self-confidence, try new experiences and explore new environments.

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Assistive Technology vs. Adaptive Equipment; What’s the difference?

– By Bella Bianchino, Occupational Therapist at Optimum Health Solutions Blacktown and Thornleigh.

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For those with physical, intellectual, and sensory disabilities, performing everyday tasks can present many challenges, and inhibit the individual’s ability to perform these tasks independently. This is where assistive technology and adaptive equipment can assist. So what is the difference?

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology (or ‘AT’) refers to any item, system, or product used to improve the functional capabilities of individuals with a disability. AT can be bought off-the-shelf, modified, or customised.

Adaptive Equipment

Adaptive technology is a subcategory of assistive technology; it refers to something specifically designed for people with disabilities.

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Sensory Processing and Regulation

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There is a strong correlation between sensory processing, attention, learning and self-regulation.

What is Sensory Regulation?

We often assume that the way we sense the world around us is the same for everyone.

There are many sources of sensory input around us:

  • Touch (including texture) and pressure
  • Sound
  • Light and outside movements,
  • Smell and taste
  • Temperature and pain,
  • Proprioception (awareness of how our body is positioned without looking) and balance

Sensory Integration & Modulation.

Our brain systems collect ALL these sensory information to assemble a complete picture of what is going on to allow us to react appropriately. This process is called ‘sensory integration’.

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Attendant-Propelled Assistive Technology

– By Bella Bianchino, Occupational Therapist at Optimum Health Solutions Blacktown & Thornleigh

wheelchairs are not just about the user

Did you know wheelchairs are not just about the user? As Occupational Therapists, we need to think about not only the user, but we also need to consider those that may be helping them to use their chair at home and in the community. 

ATTENDANT - PROPELLED FUNCTION

Some manual and power wheelchairs have an attendant-propelling function. In manual wheelchairs, you can tell it is an attendant-propelled, or transit wheelchair, by the small back wheels. In a power or electric wheelchair, the attendant is able to push, steer, and engage the brakes while standing behind the user

propelled
control chair

POWER ASSIST DEVICES

Power assist devices are mechanisms that act as a motor on an otherwise manual wheelchair.

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ROAD TRIP GAMES

road trip game

With international travel restrictions in place, more and more people are taking road trips to explore our beautiful country. Although road trips allow you to travel and explore your surroundings they, however, can often be SUPER boring for little ones in the car. Rather than reaching for the iPad, how about trying a few language stimulating, thought providing games to sneak in some brain gymnastics?

Fortunately/ unfortunately

This game requires imagination, storytelling, long sentences and creative thinking!

Rules:

– Someone starts the game with ‘Fortunately…’ and mentions something fortunate

– The next person follows with ‘unfortunately…’ and says something related

– Continue around the car taking turns adding fortunate and unfortunate things.

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Parkinson’s Disease: How Can Occupational Therapy Help?

– By Bella Bianchino, Occupational Therapist at Optimum Health Solutions Blacktown & Thornleigh

PD + OT

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system. This condition presents differently in everyone and is classified from stages 1 – 5, from earliest form to end-stage. 

Common symptoms include:

  • Resting tremors
  • Bradykinesia (slow movements)
  • Stiffness in the arms, legs, or trunk
  • Postural instability
  • Difficulties with balance, standing and walking
  • Changes in speech and/or swallowing

Although PD is a progressive condition, there are three main forms of intervention typically used:

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Therapies 

How can Occupational Therapy help?

OT intervention can assist the individual to function optimally in their activities of daily living and facilitate their engagement in occupations most meaningful to them.

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The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Development (Early Childhood 4-6 years)

– Kyla Moore Occupational Therapist at Optimum Health Solutions Sylvania

EARLY CHILDHOOD

Throughout childhood, play is one of a child’s main occupations.

By engaging in different types of play, children explore, be creative and develop their gross and fine motor skills, cognition, problem-solving, communication and social-emotional skills. These skills are the foundations for general development, as well as social and emotional development that enables a child to interact with others and engage in their environments.

By age four, children are beginning to engage in Cooperative Play.

You will see them starting to become more interested in the people they are playing with and the specific activities they are engaging in.

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Self-Care Skills Are Not Just For Adults!

– By Bella Bianchino, Occupational Therapist at Optimum Health Solutions Blacktown & Thornleigh

Social Skills for Kids

Teaching those all-important tasks such as brushing our teeth, brushing our hair, and feeding ourselves can be tricky with our little friends, so we need to come up with fun and creative ways to develop the skills that will set them up for life. 

Why are self-care skills so important?

Self-care skills are one of the first ways children learn to plan and sequence tasks, organise the necessary equipment/materials, and develop the physical control required to complete functional activities of daily living (ADLs). For kids, these tasks may include opening a lunchbox, pulling up and down pants, and packing a school bag).

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OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY FOR TODDLERS!

– Noor Jwad, Occupational Therapist at Optimum Health Solutions Liverpool and Campbelltown

therapy for toddlers

It is not “just” play!

Play is essential for optimal development of a child’s brain as they start to use their creativity, grow their imagination and learn how to navigate the world around them. For toddlers, play is their main occupation and it is how they start to develop into individuals and put new ideas into practice!

“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.”

– Friedrich Froebel, creator of kindergarten.

Play is such an important activity that parents can do with their children.

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The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Infant Development (0-12months)

– By Kate Thompson, Occupational Therapist at Optimum Health Solutions in Goulburn

The Importance of Play

Play is serious business.

 In a baby’s first year, their brain will double in size with more than 1 million new neural connections formed every second! But nature alone won’t stimulate this spectacular brain development. It is an infant’s experiences primarily that build the foundational structure of their brain, upon which all future learning depends.

 

Play engages your baby’s senses

Babies learn through experience and observation and they use all their senses to explore and learn from their surroundings. Beyond their five senses, babies also need to develop the senses of body awareness and balance.

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