Last night was our practicum in motor control class. A practicum, in this case, is an exam that tests your application of techniques learned in class (and practiced in lab). The techniques we were tested on were primarily mobilizations. You would typically be using mobilizations with someone who has experienced neurological trauma which has impacted their ability to control certain muscles. Mobilizations help align and stretch affected areas and provide feedback to the nervous system. To do a mobilization, you place your hands on respective landmarks throughout the skeletal system and apply force in varying directions. Apparently, our instructor has a great deal of faith in us because he had us do the mobilizations BLINDFOLDED! The anticipation of doing an exam blindfolded was pretty nerve-racking. However, once we got started, it was as if my body was on auto-pilot. I was surprised by how natural it felt. This was such a confidence-booster. At the end, the clinical instructor provided us with feedback. He had no comments for me! I was pretty ecstatic.
This weekend, I had the honor of volunteering at Mujeres Fuertes. As those of you who read her blog may already know, my co-ambassador/classmate, Kendra, has co-founded a community-based program for at-risk women. The program takes place every other week in Boyle Heights. I mentioned to Kendra, several times, that I lived right down the street from the place - I think I might have finally worn her down because she and her co-founder, Jane, invited me to help-out yesterday :) Oh my goodness!!!!! Jane sent the volunteers an email this morning saying how she was “impressed, humbled, and very proud” of our participation. Well, I cannot tell you all how impressed, humbled, and super-very proud I am of these two young ladies! I didn’t know how powerful one hour every other week could be, but yesterday I met some women who have made some marked progress in their daily lives. Even during the session, these women were experiencing some profound personal growth, and being drawn to tears. These girls have brought some real value to this community. I was floored by their level of professionalism, in how well prepared and creative they were, and how therapeutic and receptive they were. It seemed like they had been running the program for several years. Again, so proud of you gals. Keep it up!
Just got done with my 2-week Leadership Externship. I got to split my time between 2 assisted living companies. One company operates 2, 6-bed homes; and the other runs a campus with capacity/licensure for 86 residents. The technical name for places like these is Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs). If you aren’t really familiar with the different residential settings that are available for older adults, you may think of an RCFE as a convalescent or nursing home, but sometimes these names get jumbled. The best way to think of them is to picture a continuum of assistance/care provided: at one end you will see places that provide little to no care, and at the other end you will find places that offer complete care (like feeding or even managing life-supporting apparatuses). RCFEs are [supposed to be] in the middle of this continuum, offering some support/care. I was really surprised to observe, however, that RCFEs will pretty much accommodate anybody over the age of 60. With the baby-boomer generation coming of age, I recognized the increasing demand for RCFEs. As a future OT, with an administrative background, I know that this industry holds great opportunity for OT; so I had to check it out. I spent a better part of my time following the administrators around as they managed the day-to-day functions. It was so interesting to get a peek into the thought processes of the people making the tough business decisions at these RCFEs. Both places offered memory-care, which is what they call the level of care provided to people with Alzhiemer’s and other diagnoses that manifest into dementia. It was neat to see the level of care provided to these residents. I also had a chance to educate the administrators on the value of OT - after providing one of the administrators with an overview of what we did, and what we could do for his residents, he seemed very perplexed as to why (to his knowledge) none of his 86 residents were receiving OT. I was surprised too. The fact is: we have the skills that RCFEs desperately need, and we are desperately underrepresented in the industry. There are quite a few reasons behind our being left out of RCFEs, but that makes for a whole series of blog entries, so I’ll spare ya’ll. Bottom line: RCFEs need OT, and OT needs some strong advocates… are you up for the challenge?
Thursday, last week: I get out of class at 8:40pm, as I usually do on Thursdays (my long day). I hurry home, do a quick 30min workout, shower, and eat. Next, I fire up my laptop and prepare for my weekly quiz, due before Friday’s 9am class. No, I am not procrastinating - this is really the only chance I have to complete it and I know that I will have plenty of time to do it… unless the internet doesn’t cooperate… So it’s a little past 11pm, and I am having internet connection problems. I troubleshoot for a few minutes (to no avail) until I notice my landlady is in the kitchen downstairs. I coincidentally decide I could use a glass of water. In the kitchen, I greet my host and casually add the “by-the-way, have you noticed anything about the internet?” She looks a little embarrassed as she searches for a way to explain that the internet goes out from time to time. Before she’s finished apologizing, my creative OT abilities kick-in and I’m thinking of ways to do the assignment that needs to be completed like-right-now. I quickly remember that I had seen a coffee shop on yelp that was open pretty late.
We didn’t have internet for a few days. It was bittersweet. Some of my productivity was lost, but at the same time, I benefitted from having less distractions. The whole experience got me thinking about how much we rely on the internet. I’ve always wondered why municipalities didn’t make an effort to offer internet for free. I mean, we all use the internet so much, it should be public access, right? I was chatting with my barber the other day, and he was complaining about how the last few times he needed to apply for any of his permits, he was sent away and told to do it online. I guess the answer is the same as all others these days: money. But I think it’s still fun to ponder, even without sequestrations and such, if money was not an issue, would free internet help or hinder? Will more of us waste our productive time glued to computer screens streaming Gangnam Style, moreso than spending time contributing to our society? Hmm, good questions. I don’t know the answer, but I do know there is always a place nearby that offers free wifi :) If you’re in Boyle Heights try Primera Taza, oh and get a Taza de Mocha (Mexican chocolate latte.. mmm):
If you’re near Little Tokyo, try Tom n Toms, they’re open tilll 2 am and have plenty of study space:
I would like to make a clarification about my comments in last week’s post, entitled “New Digs”. While I didn’t really bad-mouth my new neighborhood, I am feeling bad about calling it “not-the-nicest” area of Los Angeles. I don’t think that was a fair representation. So, I am staying on the eastside of LA, about a mile and a half south of the Health Sciences Campus. Again, not a recommendation for everyone - but I love it. I live just near the heart of a pivotal region in the rich history of my people, the Chicano people. If you’re open to it, you may find it is a great place too. Not only is it culturally rich, but the location is prime and it lends itself to easy travel in and around LA. LA rocks!