Why I love the Journal of Pediatrics.

Reading journal articles can be a long and laborious process sometimes. You get some that are a few pages long, but then you sometimes need to make your way through tens of pages. Yes, you could find and read just the abstracts, but The Journal of Pediatrics has done some of that for you. In each issue, you can find a section in which they’ve selected evidence from a variety of journals, summarised them and then added a commentary to each. Naturally, it’s not just about occupational therapy, but there are definitely relevant articles for paediatric OTs.

For instance, David Ingram and Megan Moreno, two doctors, have summarised the following (open access!) article:

Merry SN, Stasiak K, Shepherd M, Frampton C, Fleming T, Lucassen MF. The effectiveness of SPARX, a computerised self help intervention for adolescents seeking help for depression: randomised controlled non-inferiority trial. BMJ 2012;344:e2598-606.

You can find the summary here:

A computerized self-help intervention is as effective as face-to-face counseling for adolescents seeking help for depression

You can access these without a subscription or payment, which I think is very noble of them.

If you do have access, you can find the latest studies that haven’t even been printed yet in their ‘Articles in the Press’ section online. Here are a few that look quite interesting and relevant to OTs working in paediatrics:

I think it’s great that they publish the latest research online so that doctors and other relevant professionals can have even more up-to-date evidence than they would if they had to wait for the articles to go to print.

How I think touchscreen interfaces could be improved.

A recent article by Alex Williams was posted yesterday on TechCrunch about different expert perspectives on the future of interfaces. Now, I wish I’d read this earlier today so I could do it justice, but I need to squeeze in my NaBloPoMo blog post for today, so this will have to do. It’s a very short article, so you might be interested in giving it a read. I, myself, was most attracted to the article’s photo.

From TechCrunch’s article

The subject of the photo is leaning on a touchscreen device with one hand and drawing with the other. That’s quite clear. The screen must function by only registering input from particular tools, such as the pen they’re holding.

When I first saw it, I jumped to the conclusion that it was a photo of a device programmed to ignore that leaning hand. I was overjoyed, wondering if this was in the near future. Why? Because one of the things that really bugs me with touchscreens is that they register just about any touch. This can be problematic.

For a start, if you want to write or draw on a touchscreen, you need to hover your hand above the screen. This isn’t natural, as people tend to rest the base of their palms on the surface they’re writing on for stability. Some note-taking apps allow you to pull out a palm rest area, but these don’t entirely work, at least not for me. When I write, my hand rests on it’s side at a ~45º angle. The surface is in contact with my hand from the lateral edge of my palm right up along the side to the distal interphalangeal joint of my pinky finger. The rest areas that I’ve encountered pull up, so the apps can ignore contact at the bottom of the screen, but they can’t ignore contact at the side of where I’m writing as well. So if I find it uncomfortable and unnatural to write on a touchscreen, is it right to encourage children to practice on a screen?

In my final placement, we told children to hold down a page with their supporting hand to make sure it stays still. Again, you can’t do this unless you make sure you don’t touch the screen in any way while you write or draw.

These issues will become more important with larger, more immersive screens. People will want a place to rest their hand and steady themselves as they’re writing on a large touchscreen surface. I’m asking developers to think of ways to programme their devices so that they ignore certain types of input, like handprint-shaped input while other input is being received. That, to me, will be a big step forward.

November, this is going to be intense.

I’m pushing myself this month.

I’m attempting NaNoWriMo, DigiWriMo and NaBloPoMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month, Digital Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month. (Although, I don’t know if the ‘National’s apply, given that these are coordinated in the States, and I’m not there.)

For NaNoWriMo, I need to write 50,000 words in novel form. The same number of words needs to be written in digital form for DigiWriMo. Finally, for NaBloPoMo, I need to blog daily. So hopefully I can tackle the last two in the same way.

On top of that, I’m keeping up with my Coursera courses.

November is also exciting because I’ve just applied for a paediatric post within a growing service. I’ll hopefully find out if I’ve been shortlisted by the end of next week, and then interviews will be in the third week.

Also, Flan and I celebrate our third anniversary on the 29th. I’ll have to cram a few more words and a blog post in on the morning of the 30th, as we’ll be going away for the weekend to a cottage up north! Ignore me while I get all romantic and mushy…

Finally, as a follow-up to the knit-a-thon, I’ll be helping to run a two-hour workshop tomorrow at Restore. So far, my knitting group has raised just over £2000, but you can help that number grow by donating through my page.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Many of you are probably wondering why I’m doing this to myself. Honestly, I don’t expect to achieve all of these, but I like having goals. I like pushing myself. I’m tired just thinking about it, but I’m also happy and excited. Also, if I do get that job (*crosses fingers*), I probably won’t have as much time as I do now to push myself in non-OT ways. If I get that job, from December, I’ll be working hard to prepare myself for the big start of my new career. Then I’ll be hitting the ground running right at the start of the new year. (The OT lead I spoke to over the phone told me they’d want their new OTs to start around the 2nd or 3rd!)

So wish me luck, and I’ll wish the rest of you luck as well in your endeavours this month. I know a few people trying their hand at NaNoWriMo, so at least I’m not alone!