Category: occupational therapy

2014: The Year of Workplace Reinvention

It is the year 2014, and while many organizations are still managing work the way they did in 1980, several are breaking the mold with new ways of leading and working. At a time when Gallup is reporting that only 13 percent of workers are engaged, it is time for change. Factors such as the equalizing impact of social media, advanced technology providing access to information anywhere, rising number of digital natives in the workplace, and increasing competition from start-ups and organizations across the globe are causing the perfect storm for reinventing work and leadership.

The Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) challenges traditional management strategies. Jody Thompson, and Cali Ressler, co-creators of the ROWE, describe it as “a management strategy where employees are evaluated on performance, not presence.” In a ROWE, workers can work wherever, whenever, and however they choose to, as long as they achieve their results.

Mabel’s Labels, an award-winning organization that creates durable labels for the household, seasonal and children’s items, became a ROWE in the spring of 2013. Mabel’s Labels was started by four moms who recognized that they could work effectively while also being able to be present for their families. They realized that their staff could work successfully with the same autonomy. Julie Cole, co-founder of Mabel’s Labels, says, “With strong leadership and clear goal setting it has been effective. Mabel’s has always been an innovative company so it made sense to have an innovative plan like ROWE.”

Full story of the year in the workplace at the Huffington Post

11 Totally Natural And Completely Unexpected Ways To Ease Pain

What’s the thing you do best? Our biggest strengths can contribute significantly to our happiness, success and well-being — and to those of the people around us.

According to newly-released Gallup data, using one’s best talents can also play a role in one’s comfort. In more than 120,000 interviews conducted during the latter half of 2012, Gallup found that the more people use their strengths throughout the day, the less likely they are to say they feel physical pain.

At least 116 million Americans live with chronic pain, uncomfortable at best, debilitating and isolating at worst.

Despite existing health problems, 50 percent of people who do what they do best for at least 10 hours a day said they experience pain, while 69 percent of people who use their top strengths for three hours a day or less said they experience pain, according to the new report. The relationship also exists among people without any ongoing health issues, albeit more weakly: 13 percent of people who use their strengths for 10 or more hours a day reported physical pain, while 17 percent of people who use their strengths for three hours or fewer did.

Whether the people using their strengths all day long are simply more positive people or just more distracted is still to be determined, according to Gallup. But it’s certainly something to consider when reaching into the toolbox of pain management techniques. In addition to playing to your strengths, here are 10 more all-natural, little-known ways to make yourself more comfortable, fast.

Full story of natural pain reliefs at the Huffington Post

Technology, prevention will move health care costs down

In 2014, expect a flurry of changes to continue to bend the health cost curve down, accelerated by the Affordable Care Act, experts say.

Even die-hard believers in the connection between the economy and how people spend on medical expenses are saying this may be the year that proves them wrong, as providers and insurers rush to make changes to keep profit margins high in light of changes in how they’re billed. They’ll be led by improved technology that helps them see how to improve quality; preventive programs that have proven they can save millions in long-term costs; and an acknowledgement that consumers hold the purse strings.

“There is a considerable level of consensus based on several recent studies about how to keep costs down,” said David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund, whose report looking at recent research was released Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. “I think there’s a lot of work to be done.”

His research highlighted several areas that have seen progress — both before the health law was enacted and because of the law — but that still have further to go:

Full story of technology and health care costs at the Montgomery Advertiser

Painful past in childhood may lead to chronic pain in adulthood

Research now shows that painful experiences in childhood can translate into chronic pain in adulthood. These findings were published this month in The Journal of Pain which is a publication of the American Pain Society. This could be instrumental in treating emotional and physical pain in childhood in a way that could help prevent long lasting effects.

This research does not surprise me. During my work with chronic pain and fibromyalgia patients in 2004-2008, I found that the vast majority of the patients I worked with were female and were injured in some way as a child or an adolescent. There were a lot of post traumatic stress disorders, chronic depression and anxiety. My patients would tell me how they felt medically disenfranchised and looked down upon by the medical system. If they did not respond to the prescribed drug treatment regimen they often get tagged as malingerers or addicts. How sad it was to have something as subjective as pain be judged so harshly. Pain cannot be measured with a lab test or x-ray. It is through the subjective description of the results by the patient that therapy is adjusted.

Fibromyalgia, muscle pain and fatigue, is recognized as a distinct disease by arthritis doctors and the American College of Rheumatology. Yet many doctors view the same symptoms as signs of depression and still consider it a psychological condition. I am of the thought that it is in reality a complex condition that affects the mind, body and spirit of the person who experiences it. It is all encompassing and debilitating for the individual who suffers from it.

Full story of painful pasts and chronic pain future at E-Max Health

Prevention is key to conquering lower back pain

While millions of American men and women will experience lower back pain this year, a little bit of prevention can go a long way to lessen the severity of the pain or even avoid it altogether. Here are some simple steps to better back care:

1. Don’t be a slouch

Mom was right when she told you to sit up straight. Good posture helps minimize chronic back conditions because it strengthens core muscles and can reduce pain. Your stomach and back muscles work in tandem to support your spine.

Strong muscles and flexibility in the lower body area — hips, thighs and pelvic area — is important for good pelvic alignment and support. Take care of your body for less pain.

2. Exercise regularly

Walking, swimming, riding your bike, or even taking a walk around the mall can improve your muscle function. Thirty minutes of walking a day will help improve chronic pain, prevent injury, and offer many other health benefits, such as decreasing your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease and many other problems.

Full story of preventing back pain at the Chicago Tribune

Further success in the treatment of neuromuscular diseases

Neuromuscular disorders such as BVVL cause the breakdown of muscle and nerve tissue. They can occur from birth or develop later in life, and can be either stable or degenerative. Symptoms range from almost undetectable, to the progressive loss of muscle function, sensory impairment, paralysis and death.

Patients with BVVL are deficient in riboflavin or vitamin B2, an essential vitamin necessary for normal metabolic function. Patients taking part in the study were given a daily high dose of oral riboflavin in an effort to help some of their symptoms.

Findings from the study, which included 18 children internationally, conclude that high-dose oral riboflavin can be effective in treating this condition and is most beneficial when introduced soon after the onset of symptoms, which include vision and hearing loss, upper limb weakness and respiratory insufficiency.

BVVL, which is an autosomal recessive genetic condition, can be caused by mutations in the SLC52A2 gene, which is responsible for the expression of a riboflavin transporter. In 14 of the 16 patients who were given high-dose riboflavin, some improvement or stabilising effect was observed.

Full story of treatment success for neuromuscular disorders at

Yoga moves in the office? Gentle stretches at your desk

Spending lots of time hunched over a computer keyboard at work causes tight, sore muscles that lead to tension headaches and neck pain. Here are a few stretches, based on yoga poses, recommended by the Cleveland Clinic; they can all be done at work so you don’t miss an e-mail or phone call.

All begin with a basic seated posture. Sit at the front edge of your chair with spine lengthened, chest lifted, shoulders relaxed down and away from your ears, feet flat on the floor and knees directly over ankles.

Neck rolls: Gently drop your head forward and roll from side to side. Let the weight of your head gently stretch your neck. Small popping noises are OK but there should be no pain. (Avoid letting your head drop back, to protect your cervical spine.)

Shoulder rolls: Gently lift your shoulders and rotate them backwards in slow circular motions. Repeat a few times then reverse the motion. This loosens and lubricates joints and helps open the chest for better breathing.

Full story of yoga moves for the office at USA Today

Sensory Therapy Might Work for Kids With Autism

Children with autism can benefit from a type of therapy that helps them become more comfortable with the sounds, sights and sensations of their daily surroundings, a small new study suggests.

The therapy is called sensory integration. It uses play to help these kids feel more at ease with everything from water hitting the skin in the shower to the sounds of household appliances.

For children with autism, those types of stimulation can be overwhelming, limiting them from going out in the world or even mastering basic tasks like eating and getting dressed.

“If you ask parents of children with autism what they want for their kids, they’ll say they want them to be happy, to have friends, to be able to participate in everyday activities,” said study author Roseann Schaaf.

Sensory integration is aimed at helping families move toward those goals, said Schaaf, an occupational therapist at Thomas Jefferson University’s School of Health Professions, in Philadelphia.

It is not a new therapy, but it is somewhat controversial — partly because until now it has not been rigorously studied, according to Schaaf.

Full story of sensory therapy for autism at US News Health

Therapeutic Taping: Helpful or all hype?

I recently co-authored an article for a Physical Therapy magazine, Advance Magazine, regarding the use of elastic taping for the upper quarter. Much of the information is useful in helping to educate more people about its many positive effects. I have adapted it to read more informatively than scholarly and I have also included a list of references at the end to give credit to the appropriate sources.

Therapeutic taping techniques that employ elastic tape as an additional component of the management of patients with muscle, joint and nerve dysfunction, are becoming increasingly popular. My patients are increasingly requesting it after seeing these bright, spiderweb-like designs of tape on professional athletes and in colorful advertisements. More and more medical professionals are offering this service since more recent research has been emerging to support its use for several important functions.

Therapeutic taping is becoming an important and useful treatment option that serves as an aide for prevention and rehabilitation. Taping can be used to reduce strain on tissues that may be damaged, facilitate or inhibit muscle activity, facilitate body awareness, provide mechanical support to enable correct moving patterns, reduce swelling and alleviate pain.

There are several types of elastic tape brands that are fundamentally built upon collective principles of aiding the body in its own natural healing process as well as providing support and stability to joints and muscles. This non-invasive treatment has demonstrated effectiveness for use with dysfunctions of the upper and lower extremities in addition to the spine.

Full story of therapeutic taping at

Occupational therapy can benefit children with autism

In one of the first randomized control trials studying an intervention for sensory problems in children with autism, researchers found that occupational therapy using the principles of sensory integration (OT-SI) provided better outcomes on parent-identified goals than standard care, according to results published November 10th in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

OT-SI therapy for autism is based on the premise that difficulty interpreting sensory information affects the ability to participate fully in everyday activities including eating, dressing, learning and play activities. Typical sensations are often perceived as distracting or distressing for children with Autism. “Some children will scream and hold their hands over their ears when the toilet flushes, or can’t tolerate certain textures of clothing,” says Thomas Jefferson University occupational therapist and neuroscientist Roseann Schaaf, Ph.D., from, the lead investigator on the study. “Others don’t use sensation from their body to guide movements and thus have difficulty participating in active play and other movement activities. When we get improved processing of sensation, the children are often better able to participate in everyday tasks,” she says. Schaaf and colleagues collaborated with Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Jersey where the children were treated.

The current standard of care is behavioral training, which reinforces properly completed tasks, but can take up to 25 to 40 hours per week for up to 2 years to see a change in behavior. Instead, Schaaf and colleagues used sensory integration strategies, a form of treatment that is frequently requested by parents. This intervention identifies the type of sensory difficulties and then designs playful activities to help make sense of the sensation. Significantly less time consuming, the intervention was performed three hours per week for 10 weeks.

Full story of occupational therapy and autism at News Medical