Um…Utica College, you're freaking me out :)

So of the six blog comments I got on my most recent blog post (all very appreciated), like most of them were from people at Utica College? Unless it was like all the same person? I'm so very confused as I don't see how I'd have multiple readers from one year of Utica students. But if so, AWESOME yay. Hopefully you all knew each other were writing if so.. 😉

I've only gotten to see 3 days of rehab so far. Last Weds and Thurs aft + this Monday aft. Both days last week were rather quiet. Today was bustling. They do 30 minute sessions and try to keep it one on one as much as possible. There are two OTs there. I spoke to the director of this place and she said privacy laws are different there, I am free to write about patients as long as I don't use last names. I'm not really THAT comfortable going that far, I wouldn't even use first names unless I changed them, but it's kinda nice in some ways to not worry about that….although I guess as a patient it might suck. haha.

In the USA whenever I observed/shadowed/volunteered, it was always important to get permission from the patient first. Here in Bogota at this place, it seems like that is not as important – while they usually do introduce me out of politeness, it isn't really a request. I have to wear a long white labcoat like a doctor which kind of cracks me up. The OTs/PTs just wear scrubs but I guess they determined my volunteer uniform would be the lab coat. Haha.

The PT/OT areas are REALLY sparse. Most of the amazing stuff involves the prosthetics/orthotics area where all the prosthetics are made. They even have a really advanced GAIT lab where they can analyze people walking in their prosthetics, I need to see that in action. The day I got the tour the power was out so everyone was in the dark! lol

They have an art therapy area, a pool that they use daily for both PT/OT, and then the P and O related areas and then a PT area and OT area and then lots of offices and apparently some kind of computer lab for basic voc rehab etc. The art therapy area had an active art therapist and lots of supplies. The pool is small but usually packed. The PT area is essentially nothing but a room with a ton of parallel bars and stairs and at all times of day all you see are people walking up and down the parallel bars with their prosthetics in various forms.

The OT room has a little bit of equipment that the PTs use, a tiny desk, a tiny table, and a tiny closet room with supplies…also a tiny kid table. That's about it!! Today I saw several above-elbow amputees working on desensitizing their residual limp in preparation for prosthetics, plus a lady with serious executive functioning issues after a stroke, ie problem solving, and then a teenage girl who had some kind of TBI with R hemiplegia + visual issues.

I brought my Pendretti's OT textbook with me to the rehab center today and one of the OTs was looking through it. She was reading a paragraph on clonus and spasticity etc and she knew all the big words because they are more or less the same in Spanish, but she got stuck on the word “with”, which cracked me up. She basically speaks no English – none of them do!  So that makes life hard, lol. It's nice the bigger words are mostly very similar, at least 🙂 I've noticed that for the most part, all these Spanish speaking people who don't speak English, aren't so hot at slowing down/dumbing down their words for me. Even after I explain in Spanish I don't speak much, they keep going as fast as before and with bigger words. A few are good about finding synonyms but most just give up. Eh. LOL.

One lady came in today for resting hand splints, bilaterally, for carpal tunnel syndrome due to her work as a florist. She had to take 2 buses for THREE HOURS one way to get there to get them fitted. Wow.  I didnt' fully grasp the explanation of why since my Spanish isn't good enough but my friend I'm staying with thinks it was probably because of government subsidies that mean she would get them cheap/free at that place but not elsewhere. Dunno exactly. The splints that were made are originally done by the P and O lab from what I can tell – the person gets their hand molded in polyethylene or something, then it gets crudely cut/fashioned, then they come in for revisions by the OT who adds the straps and uses heat gun – or in today's case – a LIGHTER – to modify the splint as needed. I need to take a picture.

I got several comments asking about the differences between OT here and in US. So far based on 3 days I dont have much to say. And also remember i'm going off TWO OTs based on ONE place here in Bogota, and that I don't necessarily understand the system at ALL at this point. I'm not sure how insurance works here yet. So far what I've seen seems to be semi similar to USA- some cognitive work, splints, prosthetics, pediatrics, strokes, etc. Give me a few more weeks at least – I am there 4 days a week, 3 hours a day, before I say more about differences/similiarities.

I need to re-read comments and figure out what I didn't address….I know people were asking about potentially either going into Army or travelling to other countries for OT. My personal recommendations would probably be A) get at least a year or two experience before going somewhere else to try and WORK, ideally more….B) OT is going to have its pros and cons anywhere.
C) Most countries dont have nearly as many resources as the USA does…so OTs are better trained in splint making etc because they dont necessarily have somewhere to outsource issues. IE kind of like being in a rural area – you may be on your own with really serious stuff. So consider your confidence level, mentorship needs, etc, before you run off somewhere.
I *DO* think that if you have enough time/money/good plans/convenient friends, that you consider travelling abroad and staying a while – at least a month – to work on the language. You will be a much more competitive OT if you are bilingual. This is of course if its a common language like Spanish. My Norwegian has not done me much good in the USA hahaha.

I'm kind of rambling/thinking this all out loud….which is um, obvious….so never use me as your only opinion/source of wisdom….I may lead u astray. See if you can network with other OTs. I want to say there is a World Federation of OTs you can become a member of? Or ask on OT Connections, or see what you can find out at conference, etc….I definitely recommend doing a LOT of research so you know what you are getting yourself into!!

I love love love OT….do I necessarily love every component of it, or feel like I'm an expert? Heck spelled with two L's NO! But as a field….I maintain my passion for its potential. And I really wish I knew more. And I also really wish I cared enough to write succinct articulate articles about all this. But alas, that is not me. Wish it was.

LOVING the blog comments……y'all are some deep thinkers – and kind souls – out there 🙂

Time for bed! Spanish class and Rehab and hot yoga tomorrow, just like today 🙂 Necesita practicar mi Espanol!!
PS: If you befriend me on Facebook I have long notes on the trip so far + tons of pics, if you just want to see/hear more about Bogota, not OT related though….make sure you mention who you are/that you are a blog reader/a little about you if you do so though. 🙂

Nov 09, 2010 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none