UAlberta brings rehabilitation fun day to Calgary satellite space

Inaugural Rehab Med event teaches kids, adults about the importance of rehabilitation medicine

FRM Communications - 8 April 2017

Almost everyone knows what a doctor or a nurse is, but do they know what an rehabilitation professional is?

The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine took its annual Family Fun Day event to Calgary on April 8 to show children and adults what rehab professionals do. The event featured interactive Rehab Med booths that highlighted the importance of rehabilitation medicine-teaching guests about the human skeleton, how to use assistive aids to help with getting dressed, and more-and, of course, provided a fun experience for attendees.

The booths help showcase the important work physical and occupational therapists do-helping people regain their mobility and function, through physical rehabilitation or assistive techniques, or both.

"Rehabilitation is about helping people live their best lives, and sometimes that requires a team of rehabilitation heroes," said Bob Haennel, interim dean, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. "This event is a fun way to showcase these important careers and to connect with our alumni, prospective students and the Calgary community."

Not commonly known to Calgarians, the University of Alberta offers its rehab training programs at its satellite program in Calgary, training future physical therapists and occupational therapists in Alberta and beyond. The event included an opportunity for prospective students to tour the Calgary satellite, learn more about the UAlberta MSc Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy programs, and see a demo of the space's Double robots, distance learning technology and virtual reality systems.

Joseph Sander, 9, couldn't resist trying out all of the great booths, each one boasting a different type of activity based on PT and OT practices. But his favourite part of the day was interacting with the Double robots, which rolled their way through the crowds-literally.

"It was cool to see the robots and how they were moving around by themselves, and moving from place to place," said Sander.

Attendees also enjoyed a free ice cream sundae bar, swag and a visit from UAlberta Golden Bears mascot Guba.

Aside from all of the fun activities the event had to offer, the day was also viewed as a great way for alumni to showcase their professions to their families, while providing a bit of much-needed nostalgia.

"It was nice to see some of the alumni with their children-for them to be able to show them what they do and all of the different tools at the booths that they use everyday in their practice," said Michele Moon, an alumni of the MSc in Occupational Therapy program. She will be celebrating her 25th class reunion this September during Alumni Weekend. "I'm hoping my son Joseph gained a better understanding of my profession. There was a little bit of realization that some of the things we do are actually 'cool', so that's great."

Over 100 alumni, prospective students and community members were in attendance-all walking away with more knowledge about rehabilitation medicine and some pretty great memories.

"I think everyone who came had a great time experiencing some of the tools and methods we use in rehabilitation medicine," said Haennel. "It's important for us to educate the public and I'm glad we could do so in a fun way-it's more memorable for them."

Kids (and adults) learned about rehabilitation medicine through the following fun and interactive activity booths:

Shake them skeleton bones!
The leg bone's connected to the knee bone, the knee bone's connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone, now shake them skeleton bones! Physical therapists use their knowledge of the human skeleton to help people move, reduce pain and prevent or recover from injuries, among other things. Attendees were able to learn about the different bones that make up the human skeleton, trace their body on paper, build a paper skeleton and see the full skeleton model!

Tools for daily life
Occupational therapists help people who have an injury, illness, disability or impairment to engage in daily living activities that have personal meaning and value. For example, an OT may help someone to feed themselves, brush their own hair, or get dressed. Kids were encouraged to try out some assistive aids that are often given to clients, including a button hook, a sock aid and a long-handled reacher.

A gripping experience
Physical therapists help people move and gain mobility and function. Sometimes people have a tough time grasping things in their hands, such as an apple or a water bottle. A PT can use a grip strength dynamometer to measure how tightly a patient can grasp an object. Attendees got to use the meter to test out how hard they can squeeze, and compete against other guests for a prize! Also, learn how a PT can help a patient gain strength through exercises and stretches.

The right way to write… and draw!
Sometimes occupational therapists work in schools with children who have difficulty holding a pencil. One of the ways they help children work on this is through writing or drawing exercises. Guests were able to try out some fun writing, colouring and drawing tasks at this booth!

Narwhal Makes a Sandwich
Kids and attendees explored a sequencing and number story written and illustrated by Rehab Med alumni. Featuring hungry Narwhal sick of his usual cold water sushi and looking for a change to liven up his taste buds, he resolves to make "THE GREATEST SANDWICH THE ARCTIC OCEAN HAS EVER SEEN." This scrumptious adventure, and related therapeutic children's activities, will take you through the magical waters of Canada's north, and the world of pediatric-based therapy.