Sunday, October 26, 2014

OT's Role in a Zombie Apocalypse

It dawned on me the other day, with the impending doom and end-of-days, occupational therapists have the untapped potential to address the needs of a new population: Zombies.

With the unique training and ability to look at the whole person, an occupational therapist should remember to address all occupational areas when providing treatment during the Zombie Apocalypse:

Environmental Modifications:
A zombie's ataxic gait and poor safety awareness puts it at greater risks for falls in the home and community.  Recommending the removal of scatter rugs, improved lighting in hallways, and instructing them in the correct use of adaptive mobility equipment such as a walker or cane (in coordination with a Zombie-Certified Physical Therapist of course), can help decrease the risks of a fall in the home.

Self Help Skills:
Having observed functional deficits in Zombie eating habits such as open mouth posture,  poor tool use and hygiene issues, an OT practitioner should consider meal time adaptations. A Nosey Cup or weighted utensils could provide the difference between certain messiness and spillage to a more socially acceptable behavior.  Pacing eating by encouraging small amounts at a time can hamper pocketing or stuffing.

Social Skills- Supporting Functional Communication:
If only the Zombie could tell you, "I WANT BRAINS PLEASE."  But it appears from countless Zombie observations that oral communication is limited.  Incorporating a picture support system, gestures and sign (in coordination with a Zombie-Certified Speech and Language Pathologist) may mean the difference from an impulsive and frustrating attack on you or a loved one and the happy exchange of pleasantries.  And if the Zombie client demonstrates efficiency with low-tech supports, then an assistive technology assessment should be completed to identify other high-tech options that may be indicated.

Workforce Reentry:
Even a Zombie needs to participate to the best of his or her ability in a vocational outlet.  Looking at interests and skills with a Zombie-Certified Vocational Counsellor and an occupational interest inventory, your Zombie client may find a meaningful position.  Don't forget to evaluate the needs for  assistive technology or environmental modifications such as work from home, standing stations, a quiet brain-free office versus a cubicle to inhibit any distractions.

Leisure Balance:
When looking at the Work-Leisure balance of your Zombie client, it may be clearly out of whack.  Exploring creative outlets including music, exercise and arts and crafts could mean the difference between an overstressed Zombie to one with meaningful play.  And if reading is something your Zombie client is interested in but the visual attention and perception has caused a print disability, Screen reader software or audio books are a great option.

So if you are an entrepreneur or enjoy a challenge, the Zombie Apocalypse may be a great opportunity for you to put the step back into the walking dead.

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