fMRI used to communicate with man in presumed vegetative state.

BBC News – Vegetative patient Scott Routley says ‘I’m not in pain’.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is fascinating. And tonight, it will be on Panorama here in the UK.

fMRI has been used to further investigate just how ‘vegetative’ patients are. One man who was presumed unaware and unresponsive for twelve years has communicated with doctors to say that he’s not in pain. fMRI isn’t anything new, really, but the applications for it are numerous. This particular use is quite important to me, as my first placement was working with people in minimally conscious or vegetative state, and I always wondered whether the people could hear and understand me when I spoke to them.

In fact, I was at the hospital featuring in tonight’s programme, which, by the way, was amazing. It was where I first encountered assistive technology and highly customised wheelchairs, and all the staff were wonderful at their jobs, and to me!

So tune in tonight if you can, or watch it on the BBC iPlayer when you have time. And, if you’re feeling generous, you can even support the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in Putney by donating, buying Christmas cards and/or sponsoring someone’s time in the computer room so they can find ways to communicate.

New CPD activity: learning from coursework feedback.

During this phase of job-hunting, I’m spending a lot of time doing CPD-type activities. Well, so far I’ve printed out relevant blog entries to go into my portfolio and done some reading, but now I’m adding a new, more focused project to my to-do list. I’ve decided to type up an overview of each of my assignments from my degree and the feedback I received, highlighting the most important bits and italicising areas I can work on. I believe that the constructive feedback should be used as a guide for further learning, so for each assignment, I will set myself a goal.

As an example, I’ve already typed up an overview of my presentation from May on applying the HAAT (Human Activity Assistive Technology) model to assistive technology prescription. I’ve emboldened phrases like, “You speak clearly and confidently,” and, “You demonstrate good awareness of key issues that should be considered when planning AT/ECU prescription.” I’ve taken my marker’s advice to critically evaluate the usefulness of the HAAT model in practice, and I’ll be hunting down articles in which the authors have used or discussed the HAAT model. I might even make a trip back to the university library to do some textbook reading. Once I’ve gathered enough information, I’ll write a blog post to share what I find with everyone here.

So what do you think of this activity? Do you have any other ideas that I can try while I search for a job?

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Flan has a job! I have research experience! And news from today.

Lots of things to share with you today!

Flan has a job.

In the space of two days, Flan received two job offers. Listening to his personal OT, he chose the one that would give him a better quality of life, even though they offered him less money. (He’ll still be earning more than I’ll be any time soon…)

I’m still looking for one. There seems to be a sudden drop in OT jobs on offer in Oxfordshire. I’ve just found an administrative position within the Oxford Wheelchair Services though, which I think might be a good starting point. Sure, it’s only a Band 3 position, but if I want to work in high-tech assistive technology one day, a good place to start is becoming familiar with wheelchairs. Wheelchairs are a form of assistive technology, and people who use wheelchairs will often use assistive technology. It’ll be a good learning opportunity, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll need a Band 5 OT in the near future, and then I can maybe get promoted to that.

In the meantime, I’ve been helping out with my university’s Japanese visitors and conducting a one-day research project.

Postgraduate nursing and occupational therapy students from Japan’s Tokyo Metropolitan University have been visiting Oxford the past few weeks to learn English and gain international collaborative research experience. They’ve been working with a handful of first year OT students (almost second year now) this week. The local OT students are getting a head start on their peers and learning about different research methods; the Japanese students are already familiar with research methods – but only in Japanese. I was asked to come on board because of my familiarity with Japanese culture, and because I’m a computer wizard.

Today involved me being on data duty, inputting data from the demographic questionnaires and post-VR experience questionnaires. I got my first taste of being on the researchers’ side of the fence, dealing with participant codes and confidentiality forms. It was great fun, and I enjoyed comparing pre- and post-experience opinions on how virtual reality could be used in rehabilitation, particularly with the elderly. Just looking at the average scores for these questions, I could see that the experience of using the VR technology positively altered students’ opinions on whether it could be used for rehabilitation.

Now, to finish off, some…

Interesting news articles

Ofsted warns that disabled children are more vulnerable to neglect and abuse.

Computers may be diagnosing your diseases in the near future.

Tony Nicklinson dies days after losing his ‘right to die’ case. (More news from the Guardian on assisted suicide)

A positive take on locked-in syndrome – Michael Cubiss. I actually teared up a bit! But I do believe in allowing people to have the choice to end their life. Who are we to dictate whether a person should suffer against their will or not?

If you’re a man, you may want to rethink having kids the older you get. A genetic study has linked paternal age with some mental health problems, such as autism and schizophrenia.

Giving babies antibiotics may lead to weight gain later on.