Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More From the Hand Therapist

 My hand therapist, Janice,  and I had an interesting discussion about the boundaries between her very specialized field, hand therapy, and sensory integration therapy. 

I'm afraid I have either been a bit skeptical about or pooh-poohed Sensory Integration Therapy for a couple of reasons:
  1. Ruben: sensory integration therapyImage by TukangRoti via FlickrThe websites for Sensory Integration Therapy usually are kid-oriented with lots of happy, crayon-like drawings of smiling children.  Hand therapy sites are solid and clearly belong to the medical industrial complex that somehow seems more credible.  (Note to Therapists:  You are Your Website. The Medium is the Message.  For a lot of stuff, that's the way, we laypeople find you! We are subliminally influenced by the way you do your website.)   That being said, What's wrong with happy children? Why is happiness in a therapeutic environment something to be looked down on? Why is seriously doing repetitive, boring exercises something to be exalted?
  2. A lot of the Sensory Integration Therapy on the web seems to revolve about common sense like adaptations like wrapping rubber tubing around a pen, or playing different types of music in the morning to get yourself going, etc.  Stuff I could get from the web or reading books like, "How Does Your Engine Run?  Many things that I am already doing.
However,
upon talking to Janice, I am rethinking my skepticism.  She explained that problems with my hands that I am still having problems are really problems with sequencing and motor planning that are covered by Sensory Integration Therapy and are not covered by Hand Therapy.  While I was waiting for her to finish with another patient, she gave me an older textbook that described how important it was to get balance and locomotion  working as they are foundational skills, what happens in a normal childhood development  and the problems that arise when a disabled child is forced into maladaption as he/she learns skills in the classroom.  That skill is attained at a high price of energy expended and poor, if not detrimental, uses of other body parts. 


Janice believes in Sensory Integration Therapy and had studied it many years ago.  Her feeling is that kids who have undergone this type of therapy can make dramatic gains.  She has asked around and has given me a referral from someone who specializes in this type of therapy.   We are thinking that I should do Sensory Integration Therapy and that if there is something specifically related to the hands that falls out of this therapy that I should return.  It may well work out that way.  Just as work on balance ultimately led to me seeing a podiatrist for orthotics.  So may sensory integration therapy ultimately lead back to hand therapy.

And this is from someone clearly in the medical industrial complex.


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