Welcome to the American Occupational Therapy Association's Checking the Pulse blog. Written by Stephanie Yamkovenko, AOTA's digital editor.
Here you will find news about occupational therapy, current health news, and more. I regularly blog about apps that clinicians can use in practice, autism issues, managing chronic conditions, wounded warriors, and more.
AOTA members receive the biweekly OT Practice Pulse e-newsletter where we share resources and news from AOTA and other sources that directly affect occupational therapy practice—curated just for members! Here on the Checking the Pulse blog, I will share even more relevant and interesting news, videos, blogs, and more.
I read hundreds of articles about health, wellness, and policy every week to find the most engaging and enlightening content for you. Blog readers can stay in the know, go beyond the news, and find out how the latest health news affect occupational therapy.
Found a story worth sharing? Send it to us today! Or send me a tweet @AOTAInc.
We all know the importance of leisure activities, so today we’re sharing several different ways for you to unwind and relax. Find a movie to watch tonight, a new TV show to get into, a perfect book for that trip to the beach, or a podcast to listen to on your commute.
1) Travis: A Soldier’s Story available on Netflix
If you attended AOTA’s 2014 Annual Conference you probably remember Staff Sgt. Travis Mills and his fellow wounded warriors from the Welcome Ceremony. Travis is a quadruple amputee, and when he shared how OT helped him he said, “because of your profession I can get through everyday life easier and just about like I used to before.” The documentary Travis: A Soldier’s Story tells his story and highlights his physical and emotional challenges. Watch a trailer.
2) Life, Animated available on Amazon Prime
This Oscar-nominated documentary tells the story of how a young man with autism used Disney films to develop communication skills. Watch a trailer. Fun fact: find out how occupational therapist Kristie Koenig was involved with the film.
3) Other People available on Netflix
Koenig recommends this movie describing it as “an amazing movie of love, loss, friendship and the enduring, maddening power of family.” A struggling comedy writer moves home to help his sick mother and finds himself a stranger in his childhood home with his conservative father and younger sisters. Watch a trailer.
Here are 8 more movies to watch.
4) Chef’s Table available on Netflix
Find out how some of the best chefs in the world got to where they are now (and see some beautiful and delicious food along the way!). The stories of the chefs are varied, but many of them share how cooking became their passion and purpose in life. Watch a trailer.
5) Switched at Birth watch on Freeform (formerly ABC family)
When two teenagers find out they were switched at birth, two polar-opposite families have to struggle to learn how to get along. OT practitioners would appreciate how the show focuses a lot on fighting discrimination against people who are deaf, in a wheelchair, etc.
6) The Crown available on Netflix
This show chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth from the 1940s to modern times. The show starts when the queen, at 25, first ascends the throne. As a new wife and mom, she and her husband Prince Philip struggle to get used to their many new roles and the changing dynamics of their young family. Watch a trailer.
Find a dozen more TV shows here.
7) The Fire Line by Fernanda Santos
It was one of the deadliest days in American firefighting when 19 of the 20 Granite Mountain Hotshots died fighting a wildfire in Arizona. New York Times journalist Fernanda Santos explores how the elite wildfire team came to be so loyal to one another, examines each of their lives and troubles, and shares the dangers of fighting wildfires. More about the book here.
8) Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
In Being Mortal, Gawande explores what he describes as the hardest challenge of medicine—dealing with death. Instead of carrying out devastating procedures to extend life, Gawande challenges the medical profession to focus more on quality of life and how to make a person’s last weeks or months be rich and dignified. More about the book here.
9) Patient H.M. by Luke Dittric
Following a lobotomy in 1953, Henry Molaison was unable to create long-term memories. This book tells the story of Patient H.M., as Henry was known, and how he became the most studied individuals in the history of neuroscience. Patient H.M. is readable and a page-turner, combining biography, memoir, and science journalism. More about the book here.
10) Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler
Pulitzer-winning Butler’s new novel explores the effects that wars have on veterans and their families over successive generations. The story focuses on one family coming together after their father, a WWII veteran, dies. One son served in Vietnam the other defected to Canada and has been estranged from his family ever since. More about the book here.
11) Augustown by Kei Miller
In addition to skillful writing and enchanting storytelling, OT practitioners would appreciate the storylines of a woman who recently went blind, a child who experiences a traumatic event at school, a community that comes together, and a young woman trying to educate herself to have more opportunities for her and her son. The novel is set in Jamaica and focuses on history, race, class, collective memory, and more. More about the book here, which will be released on May 23.
12) Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
This novel tells the story of a black girl who moved with her father and brother to Brooklyn from Tennessee in the 70s. You will meet the poor, the abused, the voiceless, and the dead. The short book is packed with thoughtful insights about our memories coming into contact with hard truths. More about the book here.
Get 8 more books here.
Gretchen Rubin’s podcast, Happier, is all about how to get more out of your everyday life and activities—something that will surely resonate with OT practitioners. Each episode brings practical and manageable advice about happiness and good habits.
14) Modern Love: The Boy Who Makes Waves
AOTA’s Melissa Stutzbach recommends this episode of Modern Love, which is about caregiver burnout and how to handle the mixed feelings associated with raising a child with a serious disability.
15) Death, Sex & Money
Melissa also recommends the Death, Sex and Money podcast, which talks about the big questions and hard choices we usually leave out of polite conversation. Melissa suggests the episodes Two Wheelchairs and A Baby and Newlywed and Paralyzed because they talk about the challenges of disabilities while balancing families and trying to stay independent.
Four more podcast recommendations here.
What are you looking forward to reading, watching, or listening to this summer? Tell us in the comments.
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I enjoy reading books for fun. If anyone has read a good book on autism, can you please comment my way! Most books I have seen at bookstores are about parenting. As far as TV shows, I really enjoyed Switched at Birth! I was very interesting to see the differences between the families and how they responded to their child being deaf, as well as the two schools both siblings went to. I also learned some sign language from watching it, and made me curious to google more signs.
- Justine, MOTS