Summer Eye & Vision Safety

As we enjoy the summertime outdoors engaging in activities such as hiking, gardening, swimming, and home maintenance projects it’s important to consider the effects of the sun and protecting your eye & vision health! July is healthy vision month and while spending time outdoors and getting exercise are vital, so are your eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology and National Eye Institute offer the following recommendations that can be followed to protect your eyes from sun exposure and other hazards.

  • Wear sunglasses with 100% UV or UV400 protection or sunglasses that block UV-A and UV-B rays on sunny AND cloudy days. Keep in mind that the sun’s damaging rays can penetrate clouds, fog, and haze.
  • Wear a hat in addition to sunglasses; a broad-brimmed hat is the best option.
  • Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest in the afternoon and at higher altitudes.
  • Avoid getting an “eye sunburn”. This is called photokeratitis and can occur when the sun’s UV rays reflect off water or other surfaces and burn the eye. Symptoms include pain, redness, blurry vision, and possibly temporary vision loss.
  • Do not look directly at the sun at any time (including during an eclipse). This can cause significant damage to the retina.
  • Avoid tanning beds because they expose you to the same risks as outdoor sunlight and UV rays.
  • Other tips:
    • Prevent swimmer’s eye by wearing good swim goggles and splashing your closed eyes with fresh water after swimming.
    • If you have a condition called “dry eye”, wear wrap-around glasses to protect yourself from wind and sun exposure and use artificial tears recommended by your doctor to keep your eyes refreshed.
    • Wear protective eyewear when mowing the lawn, gardening, completing home maintenance tasks, and playing sports to avoid a serious eye injury.

Following these recommendations, this summer and year-round will allow you and yours to enjoy all outdoor activities fully and safely. If you are having issues with your vision consider taking a look at our low vision services.

Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a chronic, progressive neurologic condition that affects dopamine production in the brain. Approximately one million people in the U.S. are living with PD. Parkinson’s is a movement disorder and is characterized by motor symptoms that include slow movement, stiff joints, impaired coordination, and tremor; as well as non-motor symptoms like impaired cognition, fatigue or lack of energy, apathy, and depression.  All of these symptoms can lead to difficulties in accomplishing everyday tasks. Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with PD for some time, OT can offer strategies to help navigate the difficulties of everyday life. Washington University Occupational Therapy offers in-home and clinic-based services that are personalized to help individuals analyze and solve problems related to performing everyday activities that can be complicated by PD. The goal of our program is to ensure that you are able to live independently and safely at home and to maintain your quality of life. PD, like many chronic conditions, can change over time. Occupational therapists help to teach self-management skills and address barriers across all stages of this disease by adapting tasks and the environment to support performance. Listed below are areas that we commonly address:

  • Medication management
  • Activity and exercise programs
  • Home safety and fall prevention
  • Driving assessments
  • Care partner education and training

WUOT also offers LSVT BIG®, a program targeted specifically for people living with PD. Read more about LSVT® here https://www.lsvtglobal.com/.

Local resources for PD can be found by visiting the American Parkinson Disease Association St. Louis Chapter https://www.apdaparkinson.org/community/st-louis/.

Learn more about Washington University Occupational Therapy Services for Parkinson’s Disease.

Credits:

LSVT® is a trademark of LSVT Global, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

5 Ways To A Healthier You In 2022 – Stroke Prevention!

While our title, “5 Ways To A Healthier You In 2022 – Stroke Prevention!” is focused on this year, we must make note that In December 2021, the beloved American icon, Betty White passed away of a stroke at 99 years old. We feel the time to increase awareness of strokes and ways to prevent them is now! In recent years, younger adults are also experiencing strokes. Because up to 80% of strokes are preventable, you can practice the actions below to help reduce your risk.

  1. Nourish your body with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, legumes, and nuts. Limit salt, sweets, and red meat.
  2. Increase physical activity. Engage in moderately-intense aerobic activity for 10 minutes 4 times per week, or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes twice per week. Find a partner to exercise with you – you and your partner will both benefit.
  3. Begin a smoking cessation program if you smoke, and limit alcohol consumption. Tobacco and alcohol use significantly increases the risk of stroke.
  4. Take prescribed medications as directed to manage health conditions that may contribute to stroke risks, such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
  5. Keep an open line of communication with your healthcare provider, and collaborate on managing health by asking questions, exploring options, and sharing decision-making about other conditions that may increase stroke risks, such as sleep apnea or birth control use.

An occupational therapist can help you develop skills to better manage your health and to implement lifestyle changes. If you would like guidance and support to incorporate these actions into your daily routine, take a look at our services or give us a call at (314) 286-1669 #1.

American Stroke Association (stroke.org)

Functional Neurological Disorder

Washington University Occupational Therapy has developed a program to treat patients experiencing functional neurological disorders. A Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) is a medical condition in which there is a problem with the functioning of the nervous system and how the brain and body send and/or receive signals.

The FND program at Washington University Occupational Therapy is provided to adolescence through adults who present with functional neurological disorder (FND) symptoms.

Functional neurological symptoms can include:

  • functional weakness
  • disassociative attacks
  • pseudo seizures
  • functional cognition
  • functional tremors
  • functional dystonia
  • functional tics
  • functional gait disorder
  • functional speech

FND program includes:

  • Education on diagnosis
  • Awareness training of triggers of FND symptoms
  • Training in FND management

The program is designed to assist patients in managing symptoms and taking control of their daily activities to resume life as they know it without an inpatient stay. Traditional FND programs require a multi-week inpatient stay.  Our program has adapted the inpatient program model but allows our patients to stay at home; while still engaged in their daily activities. Patients meet with our clinician within our outpatient clinic or via telehealth services.

Please call (314) 286 – 1669 or email OTClinical@wustl.edu to schedule an appointment.

COVID-19 Recovery Resources

Occupational therapy’s goal is to help patients utilize their strengths, maximize their potential, and counteract their limitations to help them meet their goals. As we continue to see rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, our team is here to work with patients recovering from the physical and emotional challenges patients may be facing from the virus. Please read through this article and see below for some COVID-19 related resources that you can share or contact us regarding OT Services for COVID-19 Recovery & Rehab.

 

COVID Recovery Website Resource

Mindfulness Resources:

Mindfulness is being present and aware of what you’re sensing and feeling, without interpretation or judgment. Mindfulness has been shown to improve mental health, cognition, and sleep quality. Mindfulness helps you pay attention to what is happening, which may enhance your memory, as well. Paying attention to your surroundings and yourself can lead to insights about current stress levels and help you respond with a sense of calm. There are many ways to practice mindfulness. Listed here are some resources to get started.

 

Stress Management Resources

Self-Compassion Affirmations
Caring for yourself not only makes you feel better, but research shows that self-compassion makes you more likely to care for others, as well. Repeat these affirmations to yourself.
  • I accept myself as I am.
  •  I am enough.
  • I am worthy of compassion.
  •  I allow myself to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.
  •  I let go of the old and make room for the new.
  • I am resilient.
  • I nurture myself with all the kindness I would shower on someone I cherish.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Tighten each body part for 5 seconds. Release for 10 seconds. Repeat for all body parts listed.

  • ï‚· Forehead (raise eyebrows)
  • Mouth (smile wide)
  • Eyes (squint)
  • Head (tilt up)
  • Hands (clench fists)
  • Arms (flex biceps)
  • Shoulders (raise arms)
  • Upper back (shoulder blades together)
  • Chest (deep breath)
  • Stomach (deep breath)
  • Low back (arch)
  • Buttocks (clench)
  • Thighs (press knees together)
  • Feet (point toes toward the sky, then ground)

Grounding Techniques to Reduce Anxiety in the Moment
These techniques may help distract you from anxiety and refocus on what’s happening in the present moment.

  •  Pay attention to what you are touching, smelling, hearing, tasting, and seeing.
  • Focus on your breathing.
  • Take a short walk.
  • Move around.
  • Do math problems or count backward from 100.
  • Recite something you know by heart.
  • Describe what’s around you.
  • Picture the face of someone you love.
  • Sit with a pet.
  • Visualize your favorite place.
  • Listen to music.
  • Put your hands in water or hold a piece of ice.

Strategies To Reduce Mental Fatigue

Here are some tips and strategies to help with mental fatigue:

  • Set aside time to plan and prioritize the tasks you need to accomplish for the day. Make a list and keep the expectations realistic. Be sure to allow a little time cushion for unexpected interruptions. Carving out this time to make decisions in advance will provide a reference to keep you on track and avoid undue stress and pressure to make decisions quickly.
  • Reduce distractions and focus on one thing at a time. For example:
    • Emails: If you are frequently interrupted by email notifications, simply log out of your email account. Incorporate time throughout the day to chunk the time you spend on emails. By intentionally checking and responding to email on your terms individual emails won’t veer your attention away from a task you are trying to check off your to-do list.
    • Conversations with co-workers: Using a good set of noise-canceling headphones or ear protection is another way to keep your attention focused. They also provide a visual cue to others so they will think twice before interrupting you.
  • Give yourself a break. When you notice your concentration waning and find yourself reading the same sentence over and over, you’re overdue for a break. Taking short breaks throughout the day can actually improve productivity and your mental fatigue. When you start working on a task, set a timer (20-25 minutes is a good place to start). When the timer goes off, take a short active rest break; stretch, step outside to observe the weather and sounds or do a short meditation in addition to the usual bathroom or snack breaks.  Set the timer again and continue what you were working on or move to the next task, etc. Adjust the length of time to your personal needs to optimize your productivity and focus.
  • Looking for additional information?  Learn more from Medical News Today

Physical Activity As An Occupation

Did you know physical activity is a main occupation for all human beings?  It just happens to fall under a larger umbrella “occupation” known as Health Management.  On a daily basis, we engage in many activities aimed at developing, managing, and maintaining health and well-being routines in order to support being able to participate in other, more widely recognized occupations such as work, childcare, volunteer work, or going to school.  In reality, many of us routinely spend time paying attention to our diet/nutrition because we need to eat and want to feel well.  We may take medications for a medical condition because our life depends on it, or we want to restore our health to a more normal state.  We connect with family members or other people to make sure we maintain or social and emotional health.  All of these examples are things we do to manage our health.  All of them are pretty “easy” to integrate into our daily routines.  We have regular meals, medications are prescribed to take at specific times, and social interactions happen by way of our other “main” occupations.  The same cannot be said for physical activity.  Integrating physical activity into our daily routine seems to come with many barriers, despite it being a major occupation that comes with multiple health benefits.  To be successful, physical activity needs to become a habit.  In order for that to happen, we need to value our efforts to improve cardiovascular status, strength, and balance knowing that doing so will help us maintain health and allow us to enjoy other parts of life.  Increasing physical activity does not need to be difficult – we just need to believe it is an important occupation and it’s helpful to actually like what you choose to do.  After all, humans were meant to move!

For some interesting information on becoming more active, check out the resources below.

https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm

https://www.10tipsforhealth.com/10-helpful-tips-how-to-get-and-stay-physically-active/

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/pa.html

Chronic Disease Self-Management for Diabetes

With November being National Diabetes Awareness Month, the timing seems appropriate to talk about Washington University Occupational Therapy and how our chronic disease self-management services provide strategies, behaviors, and principles to help patients who are experiencing life with diabetes both Type 1 or Type 2. Occupational therapy services are valuable in the management of many different chronic conditions, Diabetes being one of those.

Research tells us that 90% of the management of a chronic condition must be performed not by health care providers, but by the person who has the condition. (California Healthcare Foundation, 2008) As a result, it becomes imperative for people to know how to best take care of their Diabetes at home, in the community and where they want and need to participate in productive life activities. Regardless of what disability or chronic condition may be working as a barrier to your overall health and wellness, our team is here to help.

Our self-management service visits typically include the following:

  • We will meet with you to evaluate your specific needs, environment, support system and objectives.
  • Share recommendations and strategies for your disease management and living situation.
  • Discuss ways to best manage Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs).

Whether you’re looking for answers after being newly-diagnosed or have been managing a chronic condition for many years, our clinicians can help.