3 Habits of Highly Successful Hikers with Disabilities

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” ~ T.S. Elliot

By OTA Student Rebekah Miler-Lyles

Challenges have a way changing a person, and the way a person rises up to meet those challenges determines their success or failure.

When you find yourself with a disability, you may think you will never be able to do the things you love again, especially if you are the sort of person who enjoys physically stimulating activities, such as hiking.

One of Occupational Therapy’s core beliefs is that engaging in meaningful occupations (i.e. activities) is essential for promoting health and well-being. Fortunately, you can follow in the footsteps of those who have experienced similar struggles and learn from their example.

Glacier National Park

The Avalanche Lake Hike at Glacier National Park has off-road wheelchair access. Image Source

Check out these 3 Habits of Highly Successful Hikers with Disabilities

1. Know where you’re going.

Take time to do some research and map out the terrain of the trails.

A topographical map or an app such as Maps 3D Pro can be helpful in determining whether a trail is an “easy” or “difficult hike.”

Visitor centers will be able to tell you whether wheelchair accessible trails are present.

2. Always be prepared.

The golden rule of the Boy Scouts applies to everyone, disabled and able-bodied alike.

Not only do you need to carry the usual arsenal of things like water, a cell phone, and a knife, but you may also want to consider using adaptive equipment, such as a wheelchair fitted with bike tires, to make your hike less taxing.

Dressing in layers will prevent you from becoming uncomfortable.

3. Safety first.

Always let someone know where you’re going and when you plan on being back.

Many larger trails even have a registration list so they can keep tabs on your safety. Bring along emergency supplies such as a first aid kit, bear spray, and a whistle.

Most importantly, know your limits.

Developing these habits will not only help YOU become a successful hiker but will serve as your guidepost on the path to health and happiness.

What other habits are important when hiking with a disability? Let us know in the comments below.


6 Ways to Save Money with OT

Being an Occupational Therapy (OT) Assistant is all about thinking on your feet and adapting items for a client so she can become as independent as possible to complete an activity.

Depending on what the client needs assistance with will help the occupational therapy practitioner decide what adaptive equipment is needed.

Not every facility has all the adaptive equipment a practitioner might need so sometimes the practitioner must improvise and make one with what is available.

Other reasons adaptive equipment may be homemade is that insurance will not cover the cost and it is a lot cheaper to make one than to purchase one.

1. Non-slip socks

For instance, all clients should always wear non-slip socks when getting up from a bed or a chair to prevent falls. For these socks, all you need is a pair of socks and some puffy paint.

Items needed:

  • Puffy Paint
  • Socks of your choice


  • Find the bottom of your sock
  • Lay it on a flat surface
  • Chose the color of your puffy paint
  • Apply puffy paint to sock
  • Set out to dry

These socks are made to help individuals who are at risk of falling.

2. Pot Pan Holder

Being able to cook for yourself is an important skill to have but, if a client has trouble holding different items like pots and pans or a cup, cooking can be difficult.

A pot and pan holder can be made from suction cups and a hanger.

Items needed:

  • Suction cups with holes
  • Wire of some sort (hanger)


  • Bend the wire in an “M” shape
  • Place the two ends of the wire and the middle of the wire to suction cups (use of glue to help hold the wire to the suction cups)

This adaptive device is usually used for individuals who have the use of only one upper extremity.

3. Sock Aid

There are clients who have trouble getting their socks or pants on. So, for help to get their socks on, a sock aid can be made from at least a one-liter bottle, tape, and some rope.

Supplies needed:

  • Bottle
  • Shoelaces/ rope


  • Cut the top and bottom of the bottle off
  • Cut a section of the middle of the bottle out
  • Cut two holes on each side of the bottle
  • Lace the shoelace/rope through the hole
  • Knot the shoelace/rope making sure it secure
  • Place tape around the cut edges of the bottle

4. Reacher

Help with getting pants on can be as simple as using a pair of suspenders to assist in pulling them up.

Items needed:

  • Suspenders


  • Apply clips of suspenders to the waist of your pants.
  • Put the pants on the floor.
  • Place your feet inside your pants.
  • Using the end of the suspenders pull up your pants.

This could be used if you can’t stand for long periods of time, have decreased strength or decreased endurance.

5. Button Hook

Clients could also use some assistance with buttoning a shirt or pants, and a button hook can be made from just a paper clip and some tape.

Items needed:

  • Paperclip
  • Tape


  • Shape the paper clip
  • Tape around the end creating the handle

This can be used for people who only have the use of one upper extremity.

6. Straw Holder

A straw holder can be made from a clothespin, large straw, glue, and small straws.

Items needed:

  • clothes pin
  • glue
  • large straw and smaller disposable straws


  • Cut larger straw
  • Glue larger straw onto clothespin
  • Simply slide the straw into the larger straw piece and clip the clothespin onto any cup.

This could be used for children with visual impairments and good for children who have difficulty picking up a cup to drink from it.

Many of these items can be found in the home or for under five dollars at some local stores. When a client sees how simple some adaptive equipment is to make, it will give him more confidence when he is able to go home. As future COTAs, knowing we can change a client’s outlook on life with paper clip, one-liter bottle, tape, and rope, shows us that we choose that right career path.

What kinds of things do you use from home to help your clients? Let us know in the comments.

Horsing Around with OT

Occupational Therapy is a health discipline that focuses on activities that a person does every day and that are meaningful to the client.

Some occupational therapy practitioners use horses during treatments with clients and this is called hippotherapy.

Hippotherapy is a great way to increase muscle tone, balance and posture in a client that has difficulty in any of these areas. It is a fun and exciting way to involve the whole body in a calming therapy session.

Here are some of the awesome benefits of hippotherapy.

Physical benefits

  1. Improved Gross Motor Skills
  2. Reduced abnormal Muscle Tone
  3. Respiratory Control

Cognitive benefits

  1. Improved Attention
  2. Tactile Response
  3. Visual Coordination

Psychological benefits

  1. Enjoyable interactions with the animal
  2. Opportunities for social interactions
  3. Improved self-esteem

Hippotherapy can impact a client in many positive ways, so go out and horse around today!

For more information about hippotherapy visit www.americanhippotherapyassociation.org.



4 Ways to Deal with Stress


With school starting back up soon, it is important to deal with all your stress and anxiety in a healthy, positive way. Between homework, tests, and life stressors, it is important to find a coping skill that is personal and fitting to you.

Children with depression tend to be quick to anger and focused on their inability to do things. Other signs of depression include clinging to parents, fear of a parent dying, and refusal to go to school.

Adolescents with depression typically are socially withdrawn, very irritable or angry, and at times express suicidal thoughts to friends or family. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), suicides are now the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States, surpassing homicides.

Adults have more varied symptoms of depression. Like adolescents, they stop participating in their leisure, family, and home maintenance roles. This lack of energy can also affect their work if they are working at all. Adults with depression find it difficult to get up out of bed, dress

Adults with depression find it difficult to get up out of bed, dress/care for themselves, work out problems, engage in activities, or go out with friends.

“There may be marked sadness, irritability, and lack of attention to detail, such as messing up money management tasks or not remembering appointments or important dates,” said Lisa Mahaffey, MS, OTR/L, an occupational therapist at Linden Oaks Hospital in Naperville, Illinois.

Coping strategies are methods a person uses to deal with stressful situations. Obtaining and maintaining good coping strategies does take good practice. However, utilizing these skills becomes easier over time. Most importantly, good coping skills make for good mental health wellness.

The practice of occupational therapy is based on the philosophy and evidence that individuals diagnosed with mental health conditions can and do recover and lead meaningful, satisfying, and productive lives.

Occupational therapy practitioners work collaboratively with people in a manner that helps to foster hope, motivation, and empowerment, as well as system change.

With that in mind, here are 5 coping strategies that can be used by children or adults who are feeling stress or overwhelmed!

1. Deep Breathing

The many benefits of deep breathing include a reduction in stress and blood pressure, strengthening of abdominal and intestinal muscles and relief of general body aches and pains. Deep breathing also promotes better blood flow, releases toxins from the body and aids in healthy sleep.

2. Exercising

Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can, in turn, lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or just get up and stretch!

3. Journaling

Keeping a journal helps you establish order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. It helps you get to know yourself by revealing your innermost fears, thoughts, and feelings. Look at your writing time as personal relaxation time, a time when you de-stress and wind down. Write in a place that’s relaxing and soothing—maybe with a cup of tea. Look forward to your journaling time, and know that you’re doing something good for your mind and body.

4. Do something for yourself

Do something nice for yourself! Go to see a movie, spend time with your pals, have a drink, or go on a weekend getaway.

What do you do to help relieve your stress? Leave a comment below!

5 Creative Uses for Recycled Materials

Creative Uses for Recycled Materials

There are a ton of ways to repurpose and reuse household items. Image Source

You would be surprised to see what you can do with the ordinary things lying around your house!

As students in Lewis and Clark Community College’s OTA program, we are constantly reusing, recycling, and finding new ways to make things.

Being creative is key! Things that you may usually throw away can be made into items that can help a client regain skills or improve a skill that was lost due to an injury or illness. When you become creative your pocket book becomes bigger as well.

Reusing common household items can save you trips to the store and save you time. Here are 5 creative ways to make use of items you probably have sitting around at home! You can recycle and save money!

Colorful Creatures

Plastic bottles can be transformed into colorful creatures. Image Source

1. Take a used water bottle and fill it up with cotton balls or colorful shredded paper and play bowling! This is a great gross motor activity that focuses on strength, depth perception, and eye-hand coordination. The one I made turned into a penguin! The toddlers really enjoyed this activity!

Buttons and Beads

Buttons and beads can be used for many craft projects or to keep hands busy. Image Source

2. Make use of unused small items such as buttons or beads… or whatever you can find in your junk drawer! Have the client use his hands to manipulate the small objects in order to pick them up and place them in a small container (you could cut a slit in a used plastic butter or yogurt container).  This recycled project will work on pinch strength, eye-hand coordination, and visual motor skills.

Infinity Loop

Recycled materials can be repurposed into therapeutic toys. Image Source

3. Using a paper plate, you could create an Infinity Loop. What a fun idea… the client focuses on moving the ball around the edges of the paper plate while working on bilateral coordination skills, motor control, and visual motor skills.

Box Puzzle

Any kind of box can be repurposed into a puzzle. Image Source

4. Ever wonder what to do with old cereal boxes? Cut one up to make a puzzle out of it! You can make a 6 piece puzzle or a 15 piece puzzle! This recycled activity works on fine motor skills, figure ground, and problem-solving!


Buckles and fasteners can help improve fine motor skills. Image Source

5. Another great idea is to collect buckles and fasteners from backpacks, purses, bags, belts, coats or whatever you can find. This is a great way to work on hand strength, problem-solving, and bilateral coordination.

What items from around your house have you used for treatments with clients? Share some of your favorites in the comments below.

6 Tips to Beat the Heat

Screenshot 2017-06-06 14.39.15

Find shady areas to beat the heat. Image: Under the Shade of a Tree by Kuroda Seiki

By Rachel Buckley, OTAS and Crystal Anderson, OTAS

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Summer is in full swing with a lot of things to do! Exploring, vacationing, relaxing and spending time with friends and family are just a few of those things with a majority of activities taking place outside.

Fun in the sun can be potentially dangerous as temperatures rise and heat waves come along. In 2014, 244 people died in the U.S. just from exposure to excessive heat. That’s a lot of people! No need to worry though, occupational therapy is here to help.

June is National Safety Month, and as professionals concerned with the safety of individuals, occupational therapists know there are a few tips individuals can take to avoid injury and illness that may limit summertime fun.

The connection between occupational therapy and safety is strong. The occupational therapy profession aims to do no harm and prevent individuals from experiencing harm. This can include providing the community with health and wellness tips or information.

In this spirit, we present 6 tips to safely enjoy time outdoors when the heat is a challenge to beat.

1) Stay Cool

Like the lovely lady in the painting by Kuroda Seiki at the beginning of this post, seek out shady areas when spending times outdoors in the heat. Or, you can also alternate short activities to complete inside and outside. This gives you the opportunity to cool off by soaking in some air conditioning before braving the heat again.

2) Drink Water

The more the merrier. Drinking more water than you need can help when it is lost excessively through sweating.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 14.52.05

Our furry friends should stay hydrated, also. Image: Pixabay

3) Dress Appropriately

If those in style crop tops aren’t a possibility, wearing loose fitting or lightweight clothes is always a good idea. Even wearing a hat can make you feel better when the sun is beating down.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 14.58.18

Wearing hats can protect you and loved ones from the sun. Image: Pixabay

4) Limit Exposure

The hottest parts of the day occur between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. During this time, it is best to avoid strenuous or lengthy activities outdoors.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 15.01.40

Avoid the hottest parts of the days by staying indoors. Image: Padma News

5) Pace activities

When the body is overworked, it heats up. Choose activities that can include taking breaks or are not extremely demanding on the body.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 15.06.18

Find a place to take a break when you feel yourself getting overheated. Image: Pexels

6) Wear Sunscreen

When the skin gets burned, it makes it difficult for the body to stay cool! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended sunscreen is at least SPF 15 and should be applied more than once throughout the day. For further concerns and question contact a local or primary care physician about sunscreen use.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 15.09.02

Smile! Applying sunscreen can be fun. Image: Hawaii Aloha Travel

For further summertime safety tips check out the National Safety Council’s Summer Safety Tips.

How do you stay cool in the summer months? Let us know in the comments below.

Welcome to Living & Loving Life with OT

“The purpose of life is not to be happy—but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.”
~ Leo Rosten

The purpose of this blog is to inform the community about Occupational Therapy and the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program at Lewis and Clark Community College. We hope to inform others about the various services an OTA can offer as well as give an insight to what Occupational Therapy entails and to better understand it from a student’s point of view.