Today marks the beginning of Occupational Therapy Week, an important week to highlight the many ways occupational therapists (OTs) help people reach their potential.
Although many people think of OTs as a support for older individuals, OTs play an important role in supporting children of all ages, including our littlest babies.
Like many parents and carers, Eli’s mum Brydie was unaware of how important OTs would be in her son’s journey. Eli was born at 23 weeks at The Royal Women’s Hospital, weighing just 572 grams. Shortly after birth, Eli was transferred to the RCH to treat his hydrocephalus, the build-up of fluid in the cavities within the brain.
In his time at the RCH, Eli’s extreme prematurity, chronic lung disease, multiple infections, and five surgeries were just some of the challenges he faced. However, as Eli became more stable, Brydie started to learn about the potential benefits of having an OT involved in his long-term care.
“Our OT Amy was able to observe Eli’s movements and encouraged us to bring in Eli’s bouncer from home. She was able to assess him in it, support us in its correct use, and informed us on how to utilise bolsters and rolled towels to support him,” Brydie said.
“This was the first time seeing Eli in something that was ‘non-medical’ and participating in an activity that a typical baby would be able to do at home.”
Eli was discharged after 156 days in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit but has remained on low flow oxygen support and a feeding tube at home. Even as Eli was discharged, support from occupational therapists became a part of his care through our Hospital-in-the-Home program.
“Before discharge, Amy reviewed Eli in his car seat and pram, and accompanied us when we took him out of the ward for the first time. This was vital in not only Eli’s safety and comfort, but also the logistics of managing his medical equipment too.”
“There were many things that we learned that OTs could offer, not only to Eli’s ongoing development, but also to our general peace of mind. Eli is now eight and a half months and is doing extremely well. We have been successful in weaning his feeding tube and are currently in the process of slowly weaning his oxygen support too.”
Brydie remains thankful to the OT team at the RCH, and even continues to send them updates on Eli’s progress.
“We regularly send updates and photos to Amy who is always so excited to see his progress. We are very fortunate to have such an excellent team, who are already so invested in Eli and wanting to see him thrive and succeed.”
To learn more about OT Week, visit: https://otaus.com.au/otweek