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Bottles and Accessories for Giraffe Bottle Hands-Free Drinking System

Gabriel Ryan, School Health Blog Writer and Contributor 

The weather is heating up heading into summer! Hydration is critical to stay healthy.  I cannot think of a better product to spotlight than the Giraffe Bottle Hands-Free Drinking System. In 2020, I wrote a product review on this item. Over two years later, I am still using this product as my main hydration source.

I’ve enjoyed using the Original Giraffe Bottle Hands-Free System which features the adjustable modular neck, drinking tube, one-way check valve, and the Clear Tritan Bottle. This is my “go-to” bottle for everyday water consumption.

As summarized on the Giraffe Bottle website, the “Giraffe Bottle Hands-Free Drinking System is a product that allows users with various abilities to stay hydrated. The assistive hydration technology is designed to be flexible and easy to use, with accessories available to mount wherever needed.”

Giraffe Bottle now offers some new bottles and accessories. In addition to the Plastic Clear Tritan Bottle, there is a Stainless Steel Bottle, which is insulated and keeps hot drinks hot for over 10 hours and cold drinks cold for over 18 hours.

There are additional modular neck and tube choices:

  • Giraffe Bottle Tower: hands-free drinking system is the original system with a rigid neck and integrated check valve.
  • Giraffe Bottle Tower XL: rigid neck, larger drinking tube than the original Tower, and a bite valve.
  • Giraffe Bottle Journey Hydration System: flexible drinking tube with a bite valve, includes a clip.

Accessories available, still include the bottle holder, with wheelchair rail bracket and the Aluminum Bottle Holder. In addition, there is now a soft neoprene bottle carrier with an adjustable strap.

I recently purchased the Giraffe Bottle Tower XL Starter kit. This included the journey flexible drinking tube with the bite valve and the larger rigid modular neck that accommodates the journey tube.  Here is a side-by-side picture of the original neck and tube (4mm) I was using, next to the larger new neck and flexible tube (6.4mm), which I am now using.

The most noticeable difference for me is the bite valve. This feature allows the user to control the flow of liquid moving through the tube, keeps the water right up to the bite valve, and it doesn’t leak. In my experience, taking a drink is much easier through this drinking tube. I don’t have to exert as much effort to take a sip of liquid, as compared to the original one I was using. One safety item to note, the bite valve is removable and could pose a choking hazard for some individuals.

This is a great drinking solution for the summer months and year-round, for both athletes and anyone looking for a handsfree drinking solution that is designed to provide the user more independence.

School Health offers the original Giraffe Bottle Hands-Free Drinking Solution through the website at https://www.schoolhealth.com/giraffe-bottle-hands-free-drinking-system

Access my 2020 Product Review: Giraffe Bottle Hands-Free Drinking System blog at the following link https://www.schoolhealth.com/blog/product-review-giraffe-bottle-handsfree-drinking-system/

Hot (Accessible) Fun in the Summertime!

 

Those of us of another era may remember the song by Sly and the Family Stone, Hot Fun in the Summertime.  For many, the summer means excursions outdoors to places like beaches, parks, amusement parks, cook-outs, family gatherings, and athletic events.  Many other songs and stories talk about the noises of summer being filled with happiness and a sense of freedom which warmer weather can afford.  Unfortunately, not all of these activities might be accessible to a significant number of individuals.

Let’s start with the idea of the “noises” of summer.  One often thinks of the “crack of the bat,” the sounds of an orchestra or hometown band, and fireworks.  For those with sensory processing issues, those noises could cause more pain than enjoyment.  Consider the individuals with whom you are attending these events.  Be sure to bring along noise reduction or noise cancelling headphones or earbuds to help that individual be a part of the group and activity.  Although that individual might like going to a baseball game, the “roar of the crowd” might be too much.  Aside from the headphones or earbuds, see if your favorite team has a sensory area where they allow those who need it to take a break.  Don’t forget that as beautiful as fireworks are, the noises accompanying them can cause severe escalations if we do not prep our individuals and have the proper protective devices in place!

A trip to the beach sounds like fun for many folks.  The sand, sun, and surf make for a great combination.  Unfortunately, for those in wheelchairs or walkers, the beach is not something that is easily accessible.  Standard power and manual wheelchairs are not made to traverse sand.  Check with the beach where you will be visiting to see if they already have beach chairs which allow individuals to be transferred into the chair and moved more easily across the sand and to the water.  Some beaches, like one in Oregon, are putting down trails which let wheelchairs move without going into the sand itself.  Check things out first before going to make sure it is an enjoyable and accessible trip for your entire group!

There is always a concern about time off from school for younger individuals as the question about potential regression of learning arises.  Think about alternative ways of playing games which can be fun as well as enjoyable.  I always suggest having some Sillishapes letters and numbers around to play easy games which can occur in any environment, including the beach.  Have a letter of the day and talk about all the words that might start with that letter.  Engage in spelling activities when something is seen like a bird or a boat if the letter is “B.”  Another fun thing to consider is to borrow some Brainballs from the school and have outside games like “Fourquare” with a twist.  Instead of trying to get the others in the game to miss the ball, purposefully have them catch it and come up with a word that starts with the letter on the ball.  Every player must use different words until a person cannot think of any.  That person is then out.

Another game that inspires interaction is tag.  Adjust tag though to make it more accessible, even for those in wheelchairs or walkers.  Use pool noodles as the tagging agents.  Adjust the lengths for those who might be more mobile versus those who are less mobile.  Now, many more individuals can feel a part of the game.  You have also created a game that has some social distancing occurring naturally.

Some of our individuals may enjoy traveling to parks or campgrounds so that they can simply relax.  They might wish to read some books for enjoyment.  The problem arises when their reading skills are hindered by conditions like dyslexia or reading processing issues.  Look to borrow tools like the C-Pen Reader pen from the school so that reading can still be independent and fun.  If the text is online, make sure you have good text-to-speech software or a device like the OrCam Read to read whatever digital content is in front of them.  Reading can be another way for individuals to relax and still maintain literacy skills, no matter how they access the material.

The summer months can also be a highly charged time from a sensory feedback view.  So much excitement surrounds what is happening in the summer.  Be sure no matter what type of an adventure you might be embarking upon to have sensory fidgets that will be socially acceptable as well as easily transportable.  I am a big fan of the Tangle Jr for the reason that it can go anywhere, including a soccer game, summer concert, family reunion, or fireworks show and provide that sensory release when things become somewhat overwhelming.  At the pool or on the beach, I also recommend using a pool noodle or a piece of a pool noodle for that sensory feedback.  When you are around water, you want to make sure that the sensory tools make sense. 

Whatever type of sensory tool you are using, be sure to test it out first.  If it works for an individual in a home setting, it will have a higher probability of working outside of the home as well.  Never just pick something up without testing it first.  That could lead to further escalations while you are at the event.  Because you may also be in the heat, look to those items which are plastic or foam as opposed to metal or sand.  My good friend Gabe Ryan has suggested to me as well as to the groups with whom he speaks that when you have found a fidget which works, always have two when on the road.  In case one becomes lost, you immediately have a back-up!

Summer can be a wonderful time to relax and recharge!  Take a little time to make sure that every individual can also do the same and may need some simple accommodations along the way.  I wish you a wonderful, healthy, and relaxing summer!

CPR & AED Awareness for Your School

Cardiac Arrest

National CPR and AED Awareness Week is June 1st through June 7th! Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure that your equipment is up to date in case of emergency. According to the American Heart Association, cardiac arrest occurs in about 7,000 children outside of the hospital each year. In addition, there are also about 10,000 cardiac arrest events in the workplace every year. It could happen to any student or faculty member and making sure those in an educational environment are properly trained can save a life.

 

AED Maintenance & Accessories

Just as CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator) certification needs to be renewed every couple years, batteries and pads for AED devices must also be maintained. Depending on model and life expectancy of the device, batteries and pads must be replaced every two to five years. For example, a Zoll AED 3 has both an electrode pad and battery lifespan of five years. This specific device even includes a warranty of eight years for the device itself and its battery. Be vigilant for any wear and tear of an AED, however, a service indicator light will appear if maintenance is necessary. Every AED is different, so always consult the owner’s manual for proper care and device use.

 

In preparation of an emergency, additional AED accessories, which include cases, wall mounted cabinets, kits, and more, can be used to extend device use and decrease upkeep. Not every educational facility requires the installation or availability of an AED device but being aware of AED locations is valuable in case of an emergency. For quick access, signage for AEDs should be placed in high traffic areas, such as hallways, main entrances, gymnasiums, auditoriums, cafeterias, and the nurse’s office. If unsure about proper care and display regulations, SH Connect, School Health’s AED compliance management service, helps schools ensure their AED Systems are compliant with local state and federal laws. This service and app can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, and it allows users to sort customizable reports to access information about their AEDs in order to ensure they are operating properly.

 

CPR & AED Training

CPR Certification through the American Heart Association costs about one dollar per student and only takes one class period to be trained. When a victim is given CPR immediately, their chances of survival double – or even triple. However, less than 40 states in the US require CPR training for high school students before they graduate. The CPR certification that students and faculty can receive will be valid for two years.

 

Along with CPR, an AED can further increase an individual’s chances of survival in a case of cardiac arrest. Those who receive a shock from an AED within the first minute of cardiac arrest, have a 90% chance of living through the event. While an AED can be an investment, the training certification through the American Heart Association is still a quick process and costs only slightly more than the cost of being CPR certified.

 

Stay Aware

National CPR and AED Awareness Week can help remind students and faculty how to prepare to save someone that experiences cardiac arrest. Applying CPR and maintaining AEDs might be a straightforward process but deciding which AED your school needs can be an overwhelming choice. School Health can assist with this impactful decision and can help find the correct device that would best fit your facility.

 

 

References

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/11/09/defibrillators-may-help-kids-survive-cardiac-arrest

https://cpr.heart.org/-/media/CPR-Files/Courses-and-Kits/CPRiS/CPR-in-Schools-Advocacy-Flyer-ucm_499702.pdf

https://cpr.heart.org/en/courses/cpr-in-schools-training-kits

https://cpr.heart.org/-/media/CPR-Files/Training-Programs/AED-Implementation/AED-Statistics-Infographic-English-ucm_501517.pdf

https://cpr.heart.org/en/courses/heartsaver-first-aid-cpr-aed-course-options

Athletic Training: An Athlete's Perspective

 

Playing college basketball became my goal when I was about 10 years old. I was scrawny, scared of contact, and honestly just not a good player, so I knew I had an uphill battle. I have been told thousands of times to push yourself to the limit to see progress, so that’s what I did from then, until the last time I left the floor. I achieved my goal, which really set the tone for my work ethic the rest of my life, but I beat my body to the ground. I played through injuries and didn’t tell anybody, and I overworked myself. I always told myself that it was the right thing to do because I’m supposed to “embrace the suck”-turns out I was just stubborn and didn’t want anything to halt my progress. But whether I knew it or not, it did. I don’t regret anything about my achievement, but I regret not taking care of myself and not listening to my athletic trainers throughout the duration of my career.

Fast forward to now and I find myself as a high school basketball coach. When I first arrived, I began to see a few players with my old habits, which is good and bad. The moment I noticed, I knew that one of my main priorities would be to keep them fresh, make sure they utilize our athletic trainers, and create an atmosphere where they can speak up if they are hurting. In my short time as a coach, I have learned that good communication between coaches, players, and athletic trainers is so essential, and I truly wish it was more present when I was a player. Since I am only about three years removed from being an athlete, that communication is still something that lacks in many athletic programs, and there is still major room for improvement. Good communication makes a player feel safe, respected, and most importantly, healthy.

Some of this poor communication stems from lack of trust, mostly between the coach and the athletic trainer. This is the something that bothered me a lot when I was a player, especially when I was at the college level. Concussion protocols are a great example. I have witnessed a coach get angry at an athletic trainer because they concluded that my teammate had suffered a concussion. It was not a hard fall, but concussion protocol is strict, as it should be. These actions enable a culture of fear for athletes because it does not allow the athletic trainer to do their job with confidence and makes the player think they should play through almost anything. A player’s health should always be prioritized over winning.

Communicating with your athletic trainers about what they need is also important. The high school level is often guilty of having underequipped athletic training rooms. While most high schools may not have the budget to have every piece of equipment imaginable, quality equipment for basic treatments should be a priority. Just because the athletes are young, doesn’t mean they don’t need any extensive treatment or rehab. Many young athletes can have their sport lead them to a free education, and even a career for the lucky few. The way an athlete is taken care of early on, effects the duration at which they can perform at an elite level.

Coaches, athletic trainers, and their departments should be doing everything they can to take care of their athletes and be a steppingstone to whatever their goal may be. Trust, good communication, and using your budget to ensure safe environments can reassure an athlete that they are in good hands. Working together to create a culture where safety is a priority can bring success to athletes, confidence for an athletic trainer, and better collaboration within the coaching staff.

Transitioning into Summer Months

Transitioning into Summer Months

By: Dr. Raymond Heipp

 

The days are getting longer, and the weather is getting warmer. May brings us into a unique transitional time for all individuals. We are experiencing the growth of plants and blooming of flowers while moving from spring into summer. We are also having our students move from one year of their academic lives into the summer months which can bring a sudden change in routines which might not always be fun.

As our students get excited for the summer months, we want them to be as prepared as possible for the differences they may be experiencing. For some of our students, this change might be minimal. They might simply be shifting into summer programs in the same building and with the same teachers and aides. If this is the case with your students, you want to incorporate those activities that will permit them to adjust to whatever subtle changes the summer program might bring; like trips to the gym or art class on different days. This transitioning can actually start during the last few weeks of the formal academic year in order to make the change in routine less severe and disruptive. 

For other students, they might be transitioning into summer programs where their focus might not be on academics, but on workplace skills or other life skills. One of the best strategies for assisting in this type of transition is to use skills which they have practiced over the course of the year as the basis for their new routines. Hence the skills are a behavior which has already been learned and the focus can be on when and where those skills are being applied. Some of our students might become involved in summer programs which follow-up on school-based programs in which they have already been involved. 

Dmitry Libman of the Yonkers Schools recently shared with me the recycling program for students in the Autism program at Roosevelt High School. His description and the accolades attributed to this group are here in his own words:

"We have students in our Roosevelt Highschool program leading the charge in the recycling efforts. With Earth day just "days" away, I wanted to share with you that our capable students stand to not only learn the necessary skills to move forward but also to care and give back to the Yonkers community. Our students recycle paper, plastics and aluminum and work to beautify the Roosevelt campus and Yonkers via the Untemier Gardens initiative. The Roosevelt campus is proud to be considered "Yonkers Cleanest."

Just recently, one of our students in the program was recognized by the mayor for outstanding efforts in dealing with Climate change and recycling as a whole. A Ceremony is to come in May!"

The amazing life and workplace skills these students have learned can tie into so many things. These students could transition into other recycling or clean-up efforts in the area. This is just one example of programs throughout the country that have so much potential to help students move into summer programs or even forms of summer work. 

Another example I have seen over the last few years occurred in a local school district here in Ohio where students interviewed and joined a “company” focused on cleaning and yard care. These students took their knowledge of maintaining schedules and some of the heavy work they did during the academic year and translated that into showing up for work daily, raking leaves, pulling out weeds from garden beds, cutting lawns with a lawn mower (under supervision), and power-washing sidewalks and driveways. Skills like these as well as the recycling skills like sorting and collecting can lead to excellent job skills. 

Other summer programs may also have a focus on life skills for the house or apartment. Several districts have summer programs where students have the opportunity to come in to school and learn about baking and cooking, while making products which can be sold. These students are learning skills which can both be used to take care of themselves as well as job-related skills for life beyond the school walls.

The most difficult transition comes into play when the students are moving into an unstructured summer. The transition skills which are going to play the largest role here will be those which help to train behaviors of self-regulation. Some of these behaviors would begin with breathing to maintain a sense of calm or a lessening of anxiety. Our students need to practice these breathing techniques so that the behavior becomes natural to them. Once these behaviors are established, then we can look at working on having the students begin to recognize for themselves when they need to use them. These breathing techniques are good for use throughout all times of the year.

We also want to have suggestions ready for parents and guardians for ways to maintain some semblance of routine during the summer months. Think about our own lives for a moment. How easy is it when on vacation to move away from waking up at a certain time for work and, because we don’t have that set wake up time, to stay up late? Think about the difficulty that creates for us when it is time to go back to work. Breaking academic year routines creates even more disruption for our students. Look at having an evening where parents and guardians can join you at the school for a presentation with handouts on the creation of positive summer routines.

Transitioning is not an easy process for individuals. We must be aware that these transitions occur on a regular basis, and we should not simply presume that transitioning efforts should only be focused on students moving from one building to another or out of the schools altogether. The more we can practice strategies around all types of transition, the stronger the individualized skills can become for the students. Our support should include parents and guardians as well so that everyone is working with the same outcomes in mind.   

As you transition into the summer, please be sure to build in time for yourself and your own recharging! When you can use the summer as a natural transition between academic years, you strengthen the difference you are able to make to everyone! Enjoy the summer months and recognize that you deserve some time for yourself!

School Nurse Day 2022: Lessons from School Nurses

 

School Nurse Day 2022: Lessons from School Nurses

Happy School Nurse Day! As part of National Nurses Week and School Nurse Day, we held a contest and asked you to share a lesson you’ve learned as a school nurse over the last two years. We have received over 2,000 entries so far! Below are just a few of the stories we received about patience, perseverance, and more.

I have been a nurse for 22 years, and the past 2 have been the most challenging in my career. COVID was a big part of it initially. It was new territory for all of us. The biggest lesson I learned was to ask for help! I could not do it alone anymore. I was drowning. I am the only nurse in my district and was the go-to for all things COVID. My co-workers truly stepped up and helped me both in my job, my mental health, and my physical health. Nurses can be very stubborn and even territorial. Asking for help is hard, but I have learned we ALL need help. And it’s healthy and advantageous, too! We can't do it alone. – Rachel P.

I have learned that children are amazing and resilient. I saw kids power through this pandemic with their heads held high as they navigated a new way to learn, attended school, and created new ways to communicate with their peers. They show up, they accommodate, and they succeed! – Jennifer O.

Over the last two years, I have learned that I have an important job that is not easy. I have also learned that I have a great support system and the best school nurse team. They are all amazing people and even more amazing school nurses! – Anna M.

The lesson I have learned is that a smile, compassion, and care go a long way with kids. Kids can read our every emotion. Even when we think we can hide things, they see us genuinely. I know sometimes our bad days can reflect how we perceive things, even when we do not wish for others to know – especially our students. These young people are just so honest and innocent. They truly are the reason I do my job. The love they give us is unselfish and honest! – Julie K.

The last two years have taught me to be flexible and that the challenges that I have faced have been opportunities for growth. I have learned how to be relevant to my school while working from home, learned new computer skills, including virtual health rooms, as well as adapting to the ever-changing COVID restrictions once returning to in person schooling. I continue to incorporate these skills into my practice, even though we have returned to in person school. – Heather V.

I learned to expect the unexpected and to be adaptable. Sometimes we get into a routine, and the last two years has challenged me as a nurse and made me think outside the box. I learned about having compassion for students’ mental wellbeing. I learned to listen more to what my students had to say and to watch for the things they did not know how to express. Masks were a different way of life, but we learned to accept change. – Mary B.

Over the last two years I have learned to appreciate the concept and workability of teamwork. From the administration to the support staff, I have come to appreciate the value of listening more fully to every person on our school campus. Everyone has a voice, and we need to listen to each one. This helped us to make better decisions regarding the health and safety of our school. – MaryLou C.

School Nurses are truly healthcare heroes, and we thank you for your ongoing efforts to continue to keep students across the country healthy and safe. We know that the past two years have been difficult, but we are truly inspired by your perseverance, dedication, and passion to school nursing!

 

Acceptance and Awareness – Watching our Words

Acceptance and Awareness – Watching our Words

By: Dr. Raymond Heipp

In the 1980s, the band Missing Persons had a song called “Words.”  Within that song, the refrain contained the line “What are words for?”  That song popped into my mind when I recently was invited into a discussion about language and its uses with our exceptional community.  I was asked which was more appropriate; person-centric or condition-specific language.  Both of the sides had amazing points as to why their argument was more appropriate.  So rather than begin with that point, I started with the change from this month being designated Autism Acceptance Month from what had been Autism Awareness Month. 

This changeover began several years back and has come to the forefront over the last two years.  People often ask me, “Why did this change?  Don’t they both mean the same thing?”  The reality is that they mean two different thought processes and that it is not simply a matter of semantics.  When we originally spoke of “Autism Awareness,” many people had not heard that term or only thought of it in a pejorative sense.  In the minds of those people, individuals with autism “could not function in the world.”  It was a myopic view based in a lack of information.  The idea of “Autism Awareness” focused on bringing information to all groups that provided a strong foundation from which people could understand the Autism Spectrum and dispel some of the myths that had been passed along. 

The idea of Autism Acceptance came about as we saw more individuals on the Autism Spectrum unable to get jobs or restricted from full access to inclusive programs, even if the ability to succeed was there.  We move from the thought of wanting to have people on the outside understand what Autism was to wanting the outside world to accept all individuals based on their abilities.  Dr. Temple Grandin put it best when she mentioned in some of her talks that individuals on the Autism Spectrum often made excellent accountants or quality control managers because of their ability to have hyper-focus and strict attention to details.  Yet, the outside world was not as willing to accept someone who had a condition listed next to their name or had a unique way of interacting with others.

Thus, Acceptance here is much more important than Awareness.  Acceptance is a validation of the individual and that individual’s abilities.  This is essential to understanding the individual for who they are.  Awareness only points to a knowledge of a condition.  That knowledge is far-too-often generalized with an assumption that everyone with that condition is exactly like others in with the same condition.  There is not the push to understand the individual and what is brought to the table by them.  Because of that, some very intelligent and capable individuals are pushed to the side.  We must be willing to accept the individual for who they are!

So when we look at the difference between Acceptance and Awareness, we see that the distinction lies upon where our focus needs to be.  Acceptance lies within the specifics of looking at an individual.  Awareness looks at the general understanding of a condition.  Thus, the words do have importance and how we use them will make a difference in the lives of many.

So many of you are going back to my opening paragraph and asking what my response to the original question was.  Don’t worry, both of those groups were wondering the same thing after I shared this distinction of Acceptance and Awareness.  I do think they were shocked when I explained to them that they were both right. 

When we speak of person-centric language, we are highlighting the individual over the condition and keep our focus on their abilities.  So that should be the only choice, right?  On the contrary, condition-specific language is becoming more widely used by the individuals with those conditions as a way of sharing a characteristic of who they are.  This was made very clear to me by a gentleman who explained to me at a meeting with adults in a training program that he was disabled and that was part of who he was.  He was proud of this fact and let me know that to him it meant that it was okay to do things differently than others.  He worked in a restaurant and shared with me that he didn’t do things like his co-workers, but still did them well.  What a great way to look at life!

Please watch your words and understand the deeper context within what they communicate to others.  My final answer to those groups after letting them know they were both right was to let them know when I spoke of individuals, when possible, I simply used their first name.  That is done out of respect to them and keeps me focused on who they are.

Happy Autism Acceptance Month!

Access Angle: One Spoonful of Independence at a Time

Gabriel Ryan, School Health Blog Writer and Contributor 

 

One Spoonful of Independence at a Time

Adaptive eating utensils are designed to assist people with limited arm, hand, and finger mobility or difficulty with fine motor skills to feed themselves as independently as possible. What makes these utensils different than typical silverware is that the handles may be larger or have more of a grip, they may be weighted, made from bendable material, or they could also have straps or attach to a glove, and some are even automated! There are a variety of options of these types of utensils which are sold mostly through rehabilitation or medical supply companies.

 

Occupational therapists, feeding specialists, hand therapists and others can be very helpful to assist with figuring out the best option to try. It can take a while to find the most user friendly utensil. The only way to know what will work is to try a variety of utensils and see what feels the most comfortable.

 

I’ve started exploring adaptive utensils from a very young age. I have difficulty with hand grip and grasp, arm and hand mobility, and simply coordinating the process of eating especially if it involves using a fork or spoon. Finding an adapted eating utensil which I can consistently and independently use, took a little over 20 years!  

 

Here are some of the utensils I’ve tried over the years and a few thoughts on them.

 

The Maroon Spoons feature a shallow small spoon bowl so I didn’t end up with too much food in my mouth. These also helped with working on lip closure.

 

I moved on to trying spoons that had an angle such as the Easie Eaters Curved Utensils. These were still small and lightweight, but having the curve allowed me to bring the food from the food dish, directly to my mouth versus trying to turn my wrist or neck, which was difficult for me to do all at the same time.

 

I also explored utensils with built up handles, similar to the Good Grips Bendable Coated Spoons and Good Grips Adaptive Utensils. These types offered a much more stable handgrip especially as I got older and my hands grew larger. This non-slip material and larger grip were easier for my fingers to wrap around and control the utensil.

 

I was able to check out eating aides that wrap around the hand as an alternate to spoons that require a grip, such as the Utensil Holder Hand Clip or that have a Velcro attachment like the Universal Cuff Utensil Holder. These were helpful tools since eating can be a lot of hard work when it is physically difficult. Not having to worry about gripping the spoon or having it fall out of my hand allowed me to focus on the other steps involved in eating.

 

Over time, what became more difficult for me was keeping the spoon balanced in order to keep the food on the utensil. I tried a few options that have features to address this issue. The Plastic Handle Swivel Utensil which has a special swivel designed to keep food from spilling when turned at any angle. Also, the Steady Spoon which has the built-up handgrip, hook and loop strap, and an active counter balance/weight that keeps the head of the spoon in a level position.

 

Learn more about adaptive feeding utensils mentioned in this blog by visiting the School Health website. If you are looking for a teachable, robotic feeding device, check out the Obi Robotic Feeding Device. The Obi accommodates a spectrum of people who have difficulty feeding themselves. It works by automating the motion of a human arm and becomes an extension of the diner, allowing them to select the food of their choice and dictating the pace at which the food is fed to them.

 

It may be a quick find or a long journey to discover what will work best for each individual exploring adaptive utensils. Take your time and be patient with yourself, or those you may be supporting. Try and try again or maybe design something, there is certainly a continued need for more flexible options. Once I found the right utensil for me, I was able to feed myself my own dinner, and the next morning another first, I ate a bowl of cereal, by myself…. one spoonful of independence at a time!

 

 

NATM 2022: Why Do You Love Being an Athletic Trainer?

 

NATM 2022: Why Do You Love Being an Athletic Trainer?

National Athletic Training Month may have come to an end, but we won’t stop celebrating you! We want to give a huge thank you to all the athletic trainers who joined the #SHNATM22 conversation on our Sports Medicine social media pages, showed off their AT spirit, and shared stories about why they love what they do.

We understand that the role of an athletic trainer has changed a lot in the last few years due to the pandemic. Besides providing essential care for athletes, many athletic trainers were also asked to be contact tracers for their schools or districts, help track immunization status among students and school staff, and so much more. Through these changes, many ATs continued to follow their passion to help athletes succeed on and off the field.

We recently asked you to share why you love being an athletic trainer. Check out some of the stories you shared with us on social media during National Athletic Training Month!

“I love being an AT for a lot of reasons, but one thing that never gets old is when an athlete in pain gets excited when something simple fixes their pain. I love being able to teach them easy ways to take care of their bodies that they can then take with them for life.  – wahisportsmed

I love being an athletic trainer when I see my students go on to become ATs… I especially love it when student-athletes come back and say that high school ATs work the hardest compared to the college and professional level ATs, because we cover all the sports and all the athletes – usually working with hundreds of athletes and giving them all the time that they need – heidi.s.bower

There are so many reasons why I love being an athletic trainer. I love when my student-athletes come back to visit me and tell me how I was the biggest mentor in their life while in high school. The most heartwarming memory I have is when my student-athlete’s mom hugged me and was so grateful for me saving her son’s life. I love my profession! – aperow24

A few years after I left grad school, I got a text from the parent of a previous student that said, “Just wanted to check in and see if this number was still yours. We miss you and hope you’re doing well.” We went back and forth catching up, and it was so nice to see the impact I made in my first year as an athletic trainer! – sarahw3317

I love being an AT for several reasons, but the biggest must be watching athletes return to play after sustaining an injury. The rehab process can be difficult and can diminish spirits. However, watching the athletes finally return makes it so special. I think I’m their biggest fan! – megcoughlin.11

Making memories and supporting athletes through their ups and downs is why I love being an athletic trainer. – Peter Sands

I think there are a lot of reasons that we all love being ATs, and that have made us stay in the profession. But I think my favorite part is the connections that I make with the athletes I work with and seeing them grow as they become more mature adults. I truly love helping teach these young adults how to properly take care of their body, both physically and mentally. It’s great knowing that I’m working in a profession that impacts so many young minds that are ready to enter the world. – megz0623

School Health supports athletic trainers across the country by providing the proper equipment and resources, so you can provide your athletes with the best care. As always, thank you for everything you do to help keep athletes safe on and off the field!

 

Did you know that March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness month?

Gabriel Ryan, School Health Blog Writer and Contributor

Did you know that March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness month?

In 2006 an initiative was started by a Cerebral Palsy advocacy group with a goal to push for positive change in education programs, the healthcare system, and the job market, to give opportunities to those with Cerebral Palsy. This awareness effort started from a group of parent volunteers that realized there were days celebrated for other disabilities and initiatives, but there was not a month or day that celebrated Cerebral Palsy. The hope through this awareness day is to bring attention to Cerebral Palsy and raise money for research that could benefit the lives of those with Cerebral Palsy.

The designated color for Cerebral Palsy awareness is green. Why the color green? According to an article posted by PRC-Saltillo, “the color green was chosen to reflect youthfulness and new growth, as well as hope for advancements in treatment and acceptance.” The #GoGreen4CP hashtag was created to engage communities on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to become more aware of this effort.

A brief definition of Cerebral Palsy offered by CerebralPalsyGuide.com includes the following informative information. “Cerebral Palsy is a group of disorders that affect normal movement in different parts of the body. This condition can cause problems with posture, manner of walking (gait), muscle tone, and coordination of movement. The word “cerebral” refers to the brain’s cerebrum, which is the part of the brain that regulates motor function. “Palsy” describes the paralysis of voluntary movement in certain parts of the body. There are several types of cerebral palsy that are characterized by the location of the brain injury. Symptoms can vary depending on where and how badly the brain was damaged.”

 

National Today, shares 5 Important Facts About Cerebral Palsy on their website:

 

1.      It is not a disease or sickness: This condition is not a disease or sickness — it is not contagious and cannot be reversed, although some symptoms can be lessened with physiotherapy, speech therapy, or occupational therapy.
2.      Everyone with cerebral palsy is unique: No two people with cerebral palsy are the same and they are equally deserving of love and care as those who do not [have] this condition.
3.      There is a special awareness day: In addition to having an entire month dedicated to Cerebral Palsy, March 25th is an annual day to recognize and support those living with cerebral palsy.
4.      17 million are affected around the world: 17 million people are living with cerebral palsy, which is equal to the entire population of the Netherlands.
5.      Opportunities are needed: People with cerebral palsy do not need sympathy — they need opportunities to live their lives as independently as possible.
 

You can complete a google search about Cerebral Palsy and find resources and supports in your state and in your community. A long-standing national resource is the United Cerebral Palsy: www.ucp.org. The important thing to keep in mind is that Cerebral Palsy is different for everyone. Many of the articles about Cerebral Palsy  and the related awareness month describe it as a campaign to express support for those “suffering” from Cerebral Palsy. Perhaps some out there feel this way, however my friends with Cerebral Palsy and myself included, do not label ourselves as “suffering” from Cerebral Palsy. We work hard to live our lives like anyone else, going places, having friends, seeking meaningful and gainful employment, etc.

 

Through these initiatives of awareness and advocacy, it is my hope that more research and advancements in technology will continue  to improve the lives of people with Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities.

 

Remember - Wear your green, March 25th to show your support for children and adults diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy!

 

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