M is for MacGyver

You are probably thinking, “What does MacGyver have do with occupational therapy?” And my answer to that is, “Everything!”.

MacGyver was creative. He was crafty. He had an incredible knack for unconventional problem solving. He utilized the materials at hand, as well as the knowledge he had, to figure out a solution to the problem. And that is exactly what we do as OTs.

We encounter people on a daily basis that have individualized problems limiting their function within daily life. We, as OTs, utilize our skills and resources to address our client’s concerns and get them to where they want to be, whatever that might be.

This picture is of me working with a man in a remote village in Honduras. He was complaining of left knee pain and after an interview to get his history, I came to find out that he picked up and transported firewood for a living. Upon further investigation, I found out that the always kneeled with his left knee on the ground when picking up the firewood.

Being that I had very little resources to work with, besides the few items I brought with me, I crafted up a solution to the problem. I grabbed a pool noodle, some duck tape, and some string and viola, a few minutes later I had a knee pad.

I put the knee pad on the gentleman and politely asked him to pretend as if he was picking up firewood. He knelt down with the kneepad on and then looked up at me with the biggest smile I had ever seen, literally filling the room. He knew that he could return to work and his pain would be significantly less than it had been in years.

Throughout the rest of my time there, I made many other devices, including hand splints, toe spacers, arch supports, and a few more knee pads. I officially earned the nickname MacGyver because of my creative thinking and ability to solve problems given what little resources we had at hand.

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