Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Linking to blogs of interest!

Linking to blogs of interest: With this task we have been asked to link with five blogs that relate to practice in Occupational Therapy. I used the blogger search tool and google reader to find blogs of interest to me.
"Baking = Love", "The Recycling Occupational Therapist", "Be The Change You Wish To See In The World", "Master of Occupational Therapy Blog". I have also chosen to link with two fellow students blogs.

I have received communication from Nicole, a lovely comment in regards to the video "Granny's accident" that our group created. Thanks Nicole!

I have also received the following comment from Lisa H.

Hi Jess.
Whats your favourite one of all of these that you've listed?
Great blog by the way!


  1. Hi Lisa! Thank you for your comments. I think that the New Zealand Spinal Trust website is very well done. As well as having a lot of information in regards to spinal injury, and online forums- they have included activity groups for people to attend. So users can transition from being within an online community into their own physical community.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Internet and Online Communities

This entry will relate to spinal cord injury, as a practice area within Occupational Therapy. I plan to include three online communities within this post that relate to this practice area of OT.
I will include comments on each site address and relate to concepts as discussed in our Participation in Occupation 1 class. These are occupational justice, occupational disruption, occupational transition, occupational deprivation.

Traditional meaning of 'community' described by the Oxford English dictionary, is "a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common" and the "people of a district or country consider collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities; society" (Oxford Dictionary, 2012).
OK. So communities in the traditional sense, is within a group of people that share a common geographical location and share similar views and values. How has the internet changed this today? The internet has taken away the borders restricted by geographical location, therefore enabling users to connect with others - in cyber sense. For example, the communication of a New Zealander to an American living in Alaska- in an online spinal injury forum.

An online community is virtual, meaning it exists online; and whose members participate through taking part in its membership (Wikipedia, 2012). As discussed, the community is not a new concept, what is, is the transfer to the online world of the internet. Wikipedia (2012) states that a community was previously defined as a group from a single location, and, if you live within a particular area then you became a part of that community. Communication was achieved through face to face interaction and within a social setting, but in the online world, social interactions no longer have to be face to face or based on proximity, instead thy can be with literally anyone anywhere.  As a result, today, there are billions of online users on the internet. I am going to explore three different online communities that relate to Spinal Cord Injury.

The Spinal Injury Network site appears to be very a comprehensive and accessible site intended to be accessed by individuals with spinal injury or their family/ carer, or anyone interested in understanding spinal injury.
Ø  There is information regarding accessing the community, planning leisure and being out and about.
Ø  Spinal injury information, including levels of spinal injury, treatment, skin care and bowel management, sexuality, rehabilitation. Including books that are recommended to read.
Ø  Community: This area of the website includes online chat rooms, message boards, news letters and a guest book.
Ø  Fact-sheets. There appears to be many different fact sheets accessible within the site, that provide information on living with a spinal injury. These range from health related; leisure relate- such as tips for going on holiday, wheel chair seating, and using public transport; and further reading that is recommended.
Ø  Spinal cord injury research
Ø  Mobility- such as driving with a disability, choosing wheelchairs, and car adaptations
Ø  Leisure. This part of the site includes information regarding holidays and booking  accommodation, adaptive skiing, assistive dogs.

The site appears to be highly interactive, and includes an online chat room for people with spinal injury and paralysis; and an online forum. People can contribute to the online forum and until recently the guestbook. However the guestbook has been disabled due to "spam" and is currently in-active. The forum appears to be  in high use, with entries posted within the last day or so. The contributions range from introductions; discussions on both complete and incomplete injury; continence; carers; general spinal cord injury; and 'for sale'- which includes ski gear, wheelchairs, hoists and roho cushions.

I think people would choose to contribute to this online community because they can communicate with many other people in similar situations to themselves. Having a spinal injury would really make accessing some of this information difficult. A lot of the advice looks extremely helpful. I think that being part of the forums would improve peoples reconnecting with others and with the world. They users of the forums appear to be seeking information - a mother looking for advice to motivate her son, questions relating to sex- which I am sure would be a difficult topic to broach, general information regarding spinal cord injury, medication advice. The information is shared via messages that are attached to a subject within a forum topic. For example, "New Spinal Cord Injuries". Within this forum topic there are subjects or threads started by an individual forum member. The threads can be used as a conversation within them selves, or the user can simply state information that others can read.

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation - Today's Care. Tomorrow's Cure

The Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis Community is coordinated alongside the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. It appears to be hugely informative and interactive.
I would say that the sight is designed for individuals with spinal injury first and foremost, their family, friends and carers- and anyone interested in the spinal injury and paralysis.
In terms of the sites' interactive-ness'- it looks really good! There is the option to join groups, create groups, create blogs, upload photos to share, and 'find others'. People can contribute within groups, or within discussions. Users can contribute by joining up to groups and opening threads in the discussion forum. The topics range from "tell us about yourself" to "Rehabilitation and recovery"- "New Paralysis" and "Care giving".

I think that users would choose to contribute to an online community because either they may be looking for information or support, or looking to communicate with other people that experience a spinal injury, or they may wish to share their journey or story with others.

New Zealand Spinal Trust Logo

The New Zealand Spinal Trust is a website set up for people with spinal cord injury, their families, friends, caregivers and health professionals (New Zealand Spinal Trust, 2012). 
I think that this website is the most comprehensive of the three web communities that I have looked at, in terms of the interactive options that the New Zealand Spinal Trust has developed.
The following is taken from the website:

We are continuing to build our database of people who have lived with and around SCI, so there is someone ready and willing to support and share no matter where you live.

This can be achieved through a variety of means.

 Sport and entertainment
 Women’s and Men’s groups
 One on one connections

Users of the Spinal Trust website can contribute in many ways, as seen in the list above. The aim is to enable users to connect with others both online and also within the greater community in where they live. "Connecting People aims to develop active networks in each region that will host regular get togethers and support all newcomers to their area, making them feel welcome and including them in these gatherings" (New Zealand Spinal Trust, 2012).

Occupational Transition: An occupational transition is described by Christianson and Townsend (2010) as a change in occupational roles and activities in which a person engages in change or are replaced by new ones. The transition can be expected, or unplanned, such as the change in occupations resulting from a spinal injury.
Occupational Deprivation refers to the inability of the individual to engage in meaningful and desired life occupations, as influenced by external factors (Amini, 2004). Deprivation may prevent an individual from acquiring, using or enjoying occupation over time.
In relation to the sites that I have included in this post: The Spinal Injury Network, Spinal Injury and; and The New Zealand Spinal Trust, these sights directly relate to both of these concepts. Users of these websites may feel that they suffer from occupational deprivation, and may access this site to communicate with others in a similar situation. However these sites also provide an individual with a spinal injury,  information that they can apply to their own situation, in terms to learning how to live with spinal injury and transitioning into new occupations as a result. These include health: skin care, Transportation: wheelchair seating, and rehabilitation.

In terms of the potential ethical issues that may arise within the online communities, there could be a few. The site does require a user to register and to log in, and the online forum and chat only requires an alias or nick name, such as 'star123'. So this is good. But there is still the opportunity for people to meet online users that they think that they can trust- the site would not be able to monitor users that take advantage of other online users. As with any internet community, it pays to be really careful about what is disclosed, and not identifying oneself unless you feel comfortable. The New Zealand Spinal Trust has set up groups in different areas, this would be a safer way of meeting people in the community.

The material presented in the online forums would be hugely helpful in terms of ease of access, in communicating with others, and in accessing information. In regards to traditional geographical communities,  allowing users from any geographical location to access information, without worrying about having to drive, and not missing out due to living away from larger centres. It is sites like these that remind me how important the internet is today, and especially so for those of us that face living with a spinal injury. I suppose that the limitations of the first two sites would be that users are not engaging physically with others, as they may have done in more traditional communities. Although a user is interacting online with another, and even though that interaction is very necessary, being able to be with others physically is really important. The New Zealand Spinal Trust has taken this a step further, and encourages the users of the site to make use of activity groups and networks.
"Whether you have a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) or you live around someone who does (family, friends, supporters), you could give your time and be prepared to offer support or answer the occasional question for someone new to life in or around SCI. Connecting with someone, either in person, on the phone or by email, who understands what it is like to be going through the experience can be invaluable" (The New Zealand Spinal Trust, 2012).


Amini (2004). Occupational deprivation. Retrieved from

Christensen, C., & Townsend, E. A. (2010). Introduction to occupation: The art and science of living. (2nd Edn). New Jersey: Pearson.

Oxford Dictionaries (2012). Community. Retrieved from

Wikipedia (2012). Online Communities. Retrieved from

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Video Production Part Two

This post addresses some of the experiences of children with disabilities, and therapies these children experience. I decided to post these clips because they relate to the therapies and activities that I observed while on placement, based at a school for children with physical and mental impairments.

I was fortunate enough to experience two private music therapy sessions while on placement. It was amazing to see the student come alive in the session. His eyes would light up and he would engage deeply with the music therapist. He love the beat, and playing the keys on the piano. The teacher would sing to him- "Play a tune Mathew....". The following clip reminded me of this session. (although without the use of the switch- which is pretty cool too!)

My last day on placement, we spent the morning out on the swing. Pretty neat! The kids just LOVED it. They all waited patiently for their turn, and squealed with delight while the swung backwards and forwards. I found this clip on you tube:

Fun times with paint!

I had the opportunity to spend one morning with the class at their riding session. It truly was heart warming to see the joy the children expressed while riding. The scent of the horse, its warmth and texture, and the feeling of being up high. The work that these volunteers do is wonderful. Here is a clip I found on youtube:

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The world of: Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology refers to the use of technology as a tool, and includes the likes of machines, equipment, software and devices, that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capacities of individuals with disabilities to better resolve issues that they face in regards to their disability (Accessiblity New Zealand, 2012). USA Assistive Technology Act of 1998 defines an “assistive technology device- as any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customised, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities" (Introduction to AT, 2005).

These types of technologies allow individuals to participate in productive and leisure activities, as well as self care tasks. Assistive Technology is therefore a really important link between individuals with physical and mental impairments, and more independently engaging in occupations in which they value. Assistive technology users could include individuals that have been involved in serious accidents, experiencing age related complications such as decreased muscle strength and range of motion of joints; those that experience the development of disease or  illness; or  for individuals born with complications to normal functioning capabilities.
Assistive Technology that I can think of include wheelchair seating, ergonomic keyboards, standing frames, kitchen equipment, and even switches for users with decreased fine motor skills. Check out this website on resource options for children with disabilities.

I am going to look further at the "switch". What is a switch?
A switch is an electronic device equipped with the appropriate connection to another piece of technology, such as a computer, electronic toy, even kitchen equipment. A switch device has the ability to enable an individual to control both the device and the technology attached to it. The former can actually be manipulated through the use of any of the individuals body parts, as long as they have control of it. The type of switch, including its size and how it functions can be set up and matched up with the skills the individual has, or is working on. For example a switch can be activated by gross motor motor movements such as with an elbow, hand, foot or leg;  fine motor movements in the fingers, or squeezing of the hand; movement of the head; eye or any muscle within their body, even the breath! Amazing right!

So who might need to use a switch? Children with both physical and mental impairment often use switch devices in schools, to build attention and cognition, such as introducing cause and effect. Switches are very useful when used with children, because the child can be encourage to engage in reaching tasks (reaching for the switch) and can allow the non verbal child to communicate (if the switch is set up repeat words)- this is huge for the non verbal child!; switches also encourage the child with decreased fine motor skills  to engage in play while practicing range of motion or motor coordination. 

Through searching on the internet I have managed to find all sorts of switches-big and small; the Jelly Bean switch; the Sipper/Puff switch- which can be connected to XBOX; the mouth/ tongue operated switch; the Eye Blink switch; the Hamburger switch and the grasp switch. Wow! Have a look at these switch options . The switch that I thought seemed neat is the toy switch. The switch can be inserted into a toy, such as a teddy bear. I am really interested in this idea. So what would you need to make one? 
Have a look at this clip that I found on youtube, which shows how to make a toy switch:

The following is a link to "Assistive Technology: Using Switch-Activated Toys and Devices for Preschool Children with Motor Impairments" By Jayne Omori. 


Itntroduction to AT. (2005) AT and idea. Retrieved from

How to Make Your Own Adapted Switch Toys

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Information Technology and Ethical Issues

This post relates to information technology/ information communications technology (IT/ICT). I will be exploring Information Communication Technology and the ethical issues surrounding its use.Information technology is described by Bouwmann, Van Den Loofe and Van de Wijngaert (2005) as a merging of telecommunication and computor techonologies, which has radically altered the way people live and work. Information technology communication or (ICT) is an “umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning” ( Search CIO- Midmarket, 2012). 

So ICT includes technology devices such as computors and the applications or programmes that the computors may use. This type of technology aids and allows a user to connect with their audience, such as facebook, moodle and skype (yippee!). These types of technologies have become like second nature in todays society, especially for those raised in the information age; the dreaded generation Y’s. Today life without technologies such as cellphones and personal laptops- and all that the internet and online sites entail surely seems unthinkable in todays world.

Check out this you tube video by Michael Welsh:

So how has this type of formatting influenced the web as we know it today? Well it has changed the way we access the web and ultimately how we communicate through it. Take facebook for example. It is an open platform that uses XML, which allows 3rd parties, like you and me, to add to it. We are now active participators in further developement of the web. If you type your name into google, what happens? Well when I typed my name in, I found this blog, my facebook account, skype account etc. These are all created and used by myself, my contributions to the world wide web!

In regards to these types of technologies and their use, I feel fairly comfortable with using them. I grew up without television and computors, but it has worked its way into my everyday life over the last ten years. With the creation of google and promotion of computors both home and personal laptops, email and word processing; and now today facebook, skype, cell phones and you tube, I would say that their use is now well and truly ingrained in my daily existence. 

Last night I had my first 4-way, nn skype that is! Skype allowed three of my friends and I to connect over a "conference call" complete with video. I dont think the four of us have been "together" in a conversation like that coming up 9 years. My family and I also use skype to keep in touch with my partners family in Canada, allowing my daughter to maintain contact with her Grandparents. Pretty special.

Other information technolgies that I use include internet banking, weather online, emails, trademe, news online – such as the herald, and moodle- which is our polytech's online access suite. I think that I am comfortable using these technologies because I use them in my own space and in my own time. But the need to use my laptop and cellphone have increased in todays 'technology age'. Its expected that I am contactable via cell phone, and it is necessary to use my personal computer study, without out it....where would I be!?

The use of these technologies also allows me to more easily manage my time, and to conveniently manage my life. Instead of having to visit a friend, a store or a bank, we can now use cellphones and the internet without having to go anywhere. But is this always a good thing? Sometimes im not so sure. There seem to be many positive benefits of accessing communication technology, but also many disadvantages. Technology causes us to be far less personable, highly anti social and even lazy. When we used to write a letter, we now email; where we used to call and speak to a friend, we now text; we used to visit the bank, we now use online banking. ( And what about losing your work on the computor!). On one side I can see us losing contact with the "real world" through the use of technology, and the other I see the opportunities and benefits that it allows us. But without a doubt technology and its continual development is the way of the future. 

There is the issue of confidentiality, and the risk of losing or having others gain access to personal financial information, such as credit card details; privacy issues through using social media, such as facebook; the risk of computor viruses that have the potential to shutdown computors, take personal information and, to cause MAJOR STRESS!!! 

Today many people use these technologies to meet people, such as online dating. For me, this is taking it too far, but for many it really is a reality. When do I use ICT to engage in purposeful activity?, well, surprisingly far more than I would have thought , until I was really honest with myself! Sometimes I use you tube to find dance routines/ work out routines, even cooking recipes. Lately I have been using you tube to watch “surf lessons” so that I can hopefully make the most of the Dunedin surf while Im here. Using email and facebook, there are many times I have made plans, organised holidays, enquired about rental properties, jobs etc. 

Now for ICT in OT!!!! I have now participated in two feildwork placements since studying towards my OT degree. In my first placement, based in a community rehabilitation clinic for over 65’s. ISOFT database technology at the Dunedin hospital was used to store client information on is probably one of the most important pieces of communication technology that I can identify; also the use of pagers and cellphones to call staff and clients; and google maps- used to locate some of those tricky addresses around Dunedin. ISOFT was a highly important and useful tool that allowed health practioners to access health record information on clients. For clients the use of cellphones to remind of appointments was an important piece of technology being used, as well as skype and networking media, used for support, and for seeking information.I believe that IT will help in OT practice and in daily life, to enable the engagement in occupation. But I think that being aware of the implications of using these ever developing technologies is a must. Being aware of the risks that exist and making good decisions about how technology is used. This could be done by not disclosing credit card details online; installing reliable anti malware and antispy ware on personal computors; being careful about what images are uploaded online, remembering that it is very difficult to remove these items down the road.

Sooo the ethical considerations that can arise through capturing, sharing and transfering information via devices and systems. Well there are the issues around Intellectual Property, and using others ideas as your own; Informed Consent, have they agreed to be used in your research?; Greased Data; Storage and Access, who can see the information? Problems have arisin from leaked private information- just think about the recent issues with ACC and Nick Smith! Also Google Earth, and how the pictures are taken- and what the pictures show. No informed consent there!

I will finish this entry with Michael Walsh's statement from his youtube video. 
"We will need to rethink a few things/ copyright/ authorship/ identity/ ethics/ aesthetics/ rhetoric's/ governance/ privacy/ commerce/ love/ family/ ourselves" (Youtube, 2007).



Bouwmann, H., Van Den Loofe, B., Van de Wjngaert, L. (2005). Information and communication technology in organisations. London: Sage Publications

Schuehammer, J.(2000). Accessibility, separating form and content. Retrieved from

Searchcio-Midmarket (2012). ICT (information and communications technology - or technologies)Retreieved from

Wikipedia (2012). XML. Retrieved from