My name is Evelien Spoormakers and I am an occupational therapy student at Zuyd Hogeschool in the Netherlands. I’m writing this blog because I want to tell you something about the internships I’ve done and the experiences I gained there, because there are not the most obvious internships for an OT student. That’s what made this internships so interesting! First I will shortly tell you something about my first internship in the disabled care. I started this internship in September 2019.
I was in my third year at that time. As I described earlier, this internship was in care for the disabled and to be precise, for the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy. The work of the occupational therapist mainly took place in the residential groups. The residential groups are a home for people of all ages with a intellectual disability due to the epilepsy.
These agreements I had during the day were most of the time aimed at the competence of advising. This includes for example measuring or adapting a wheelchair, advice on adapted cutlery or on stimulus processing. In order to give a good advice, I always needed to analyse what the exact problem was in the first place. I did this by having a conversation with the client or their caregiver. Furthermore I had to observe the client in his context. There was also a lot of consultation between the different disciplines. As an occupational therapist, I mainly worked together with the caregivers, the physiotherapists and the speech therapists.
Not many occupational therapists work in disability care yet, but in my experience I have seen that an occupational therapist can mean a lot for the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities. I also learned a lot about how to adapt my communication to the level of the client and I think that its very important for providing good care. I was able to learn a lot from seeing this part of the occupational therapy workfield and would recommend it to everyone!
With the knowledge from my first internship, I started my second internship in February 2020. This internship was in the early intensive neurorehabilitation and is only given in one place in the Netherlands, so it was super special that I had such an opportunity. All clients in this department have brain injuries and get treated right after coming out of a coma with a low consciousness. The goal of early intensive neurorehabilitation is to raise the client’s awareness so that they can move on to regular neurorehabilitation. All disciplines work together towards the same goal, but the focus of each discipline is slightly different.
The focus of occupational therapy is mainly on the upper limbs. If a client has a low level of consciousness, the treatment mainly revolves around experiencing movements with the aim that the client becomes aware of his own body scheme again. Later the occupational therapist will provoke the client to movements through action-reaction. When a client is in a high level of consciousness, an attempt is made to provoke command-oriented motor skills. In addition to provoking motor skills, the occupational therapist is also involved in the “typical” occupational therapy tasks. For example measuring a wheelchair, measuring splints and observing and training of everyday and meaningful activities.
I found this internship really interesting. In particular, I was able to learn to observe really well. Observation is of course an important competence that an occupational therapist must have. Most clients in early intensive neurorehabilitation cannot speak, so you have to pay special attention to the small signals in non-verbal communication. If you want more information about early intensive neurorehabilitation, you can search the internet for the VIN program. There are also several videos available on youtube.
This was all I wanted to share with you in my blog. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Thank you!