Saturday, April 11, 2015

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY: It's the Little Things that Make Life BIG!

It truly is the little things in life that make a big difference, especially when working with kids who want to be just like their friends.

Madison is a 9-year-old sweet, friendly, adorable young girl who underwent a hemispherectomy at 7 years of age due to a cancerous tumor growing in her brain. She lost all function in her left hand aside from being able to use it as a stabilizing assist.

Madison is a motivated young girl and is doing all of her bilateral skills independently: cutting, stringing beads, dressing…..but she can’t do her own ponytail, a goal that she strongly stated when we first met.

I pulled up some you-tube videos that day and together we watched one handed techniques for ponytail making. Most kids would have seen those videos and given up. They were hard. But not Madison.

Together, week after week we created different types of adapted pony holders and tried numerous techniques. One day Madison came into therapy with a big grin on her face, telling me she had a surprise. She then proceeded to use one of our adapted pony holders and made herself a beautiful one handed ponytail.

She told me that it was the best day of her life because now she is truly independent, and she can make her own ponytail after gym class!

Madison is just one of the many inspirational children I am fortunate to work with every day!

Karen Gibber, OTR/L works at Janna Hacker & Associates. Please visit their website @ and their blog @

To read the previous post in the "little things" series, click HERE!

Karen Gibber received her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from Columbia University in New York City. She began her experience in pediatric rehabilitation at Staten Island University Hospital in NY, and then married and moved with her husband to Baltimore. There, Karen worked at Kennedy Krieger Institute and a private pediatric practice for 9 years. During that time, she attended Drexel University in Philadelphia and obtained her Graduate Certificate in Advanced Practice in the Hand and Upper Quadrant.
        Karen has experience working with a variety of pediatric diagnoses, with a special interest in children with orthopedic and neuromuscular impairments including brachial plexus injury, congenital hand deformities, cerebral palsy, hemiplegia, and upper extremity fractures. She also enjoys providing therapy for sensory integration and fine motor delays.
Karen moved to the Memphis area in July 2014. She has three children with whom she is excited to explore this great city!


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