TOTA Conference 2007

I attended the Tennessee Occupational Therapy Association (TOTA) Conference in Nashville this past weekend! It started at 8am with some basic election information and scholarship announcements! Haley (a fellow student on the Chattanooga campus) and I each won a mini scholarship! It was very exciting and very much appreciated!

We then started educational sessions! You could either do the 9-5 Sensory Integration session, or do two shorter sessions – one on AgrAbility (farming) and one on spirituality! I chose to do the two shorter ones. There were also many vendors there with information and free stuff (YAY MY FIRST GAIT BELT YAY!), as well as lots of opportunities for networking, and yummy food! The next one is in Dickson, TN and y’all better go if you are in Tennessee! Or I’ll hunt you down and beat you with a stick. Moving on.

The three-hour session on farming was really interesting. It talked about how farming is one of the most hazardous occupations, and that many Tennessee farmers experience injuries or illnesses each year that can affect their ability to continue farming. Seeing as how there are so few farmers left, it is in our vested interest to keep them healthy and productive!
The Tennessee AgrAbility Project is the state version of a national project, aimed at helping keep disabled farmers leading productive lives! Occupational therapists can help by helping farmers modify equipment (or at least making suggestions), figuring out ways to make the task easier, figuring out ways for others to contribute, etc. Basic problem-solving, typical of an OT, only geared at farmers! for more information! (Quick side-note: My friends are members of Slow Foods Memphis, and this organization is all about supporting local farmers! I am suggesting the two organizations do some hooking up! Also, I’m now a famous chicken – Karen, the eponymous (?)) Dorking chicken, had her debut in Edible Memphis Magazine! With a picture and everything!)

The second, four-hour session, was in the afternoon. It was called “Spirituality in the Clinical Context” and it was run by Chaplain Patrick Whiteford, who works at the local VA here in Memphis, TN. I learned some pretty neat stuff in that session as well! We discussed the differences between spirituality and religion (my own definition: religion is spirituality with boundaries), and how as clinicians we should be willing to discuss spirituality with our clients, if we truly want to be as holistic as we say we are.

We talked about the seven core spiritual needs: dignity, power, freedom, meaning, love, rest, and celebration.

We talked about “loss of the assumed world”, where everything you knew and trusted to be true, is shattered in an instant – loss of a limb in a car accident, etc. We also discussed the “ministry of presence”, which is essentially how it can be therapeutic for someone if you are just sitting there, listening – being actively present.

My own tangent: Do you know how sometimes you are on a long road trip with someone close to you, and you will say things to that person while staring ahead at the road and driving, that you would not otherwise be willing to reveal? I feel like OTs are sitting in that car – you are occupying the patient and distracting him/her, and he/she is able to bounce things around in their head and reveal things to you that he/she wouldn’t reveal to a family member, doctor, or even a psychologist. Probably the most important thing we OTs can do is listen – not be judgmental or offer advice, but just listen. Usually the patient will figure out their own storyline based on their own spiritual/religious beliefs.

We also discussed three spiritual assessments – F -I – C – A, HOPE, and 7 x 7. The Hope is probably the easiest/most relevant to OT. It asks questions such as “What sustains you and keeps you going?” “What are the sources of hope, strength, comfort, and peace?” Etc.

The main point was, OTs should be willing to discuss spirituality/religion with their patients, in a nonjudgmental or controversial manner. It may make a difference in that patient’s treatment. Be client-centered and holistic like a good OT!

Hopefully pictures will come soon! I am waiting on friends to e-mail me some!

Oct 16, 2007 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 1