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I am an Australian occupational therapist, educator and researcher. I have worked as an OT in mental health, vocational rehabilitation and a private surgical hospital. I am passionate using online technology to enhance the knowledge and growth of the occupational therapy profession. In my PhD research I am looking at the role of online technologies in information management and knowledge transfer in occupational therapy. Views expressed and stories shared on this blog are my opinion and do not represent views of my employer or professional registration body.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Prezi: About Occupational Therapy

I have been developing this prezi presentation for my introduction lecture for first year MScOT students. I wonder what else I need to include?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sensory Processing Disorder: Education available online

Dr. Lincoln Bauer emailed to let me know that she is making professional development easier for OTs by putting a course about sensory processing disorder online. Visit this link to view the website.

Here's what Lincoln wrote in her email to me:

For families with Sensory Challenged children who live too far from the right occupational therapy centers, and occupational therapists who would enjoy participating in workshops such as these, this is ground-breaking, as they can now have the benefits of working with Dr. Jean Ayres and the staff of the SPD Foundation without actually having to come to the center.

I applaud your vision and professionalism Lincoln. Your website is very clean and easy to navigate. This is the way of the future! You have translated your knowledge for others and used online technology to share this knowledge. This is the future for ongoing professional development.

Bridging the gap between our online and offline social network

Thanks Susan Burwash for sharing this with me. It is always a good idea to keep an eye on the dark side...


This is a copy of an email I received in April... sorry it has taken me this long to share it!

MADISON - In early April, Adam Wilson posted a status update on the social networking Web site Twitter - just by thinking about it.

Click on this link to see a demonstration.

Just 23 characters long, his message, "using EEG to send tweet," demonstrates a natural, manageable way in which "locked-in" patients can couple brain-computer interface technologies with modern communication tools.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison biomedical engineering doctoral student, Wilson is among a growing group of researchers worldwide who aim to perfect a communication system for users whose bodies do not work, but whose brains function normally. Among those are people who have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), brain-stem stroke or high spinal cord injury.

Some brain-computer interface systems employ an electrode-studded cap wired to a computer. The electrodes detect electrical signals in the brain - essentially, thoughts - and translate them into physical actions, such as a cursor motion on a computer screen. "We started thinking that moving a cursor on a screen is a good scientific exercise," says Justin Williams, a UW-Madison assistant professor of biomedical engineering and Wilson's adviser. "But when we talk to people who have locked-in syndrome or a spinal-cord injury, their No. 1 concern is communication."

In collaboration with research scientist Gerwin Schalk and colleagues at the Wadsworth Center in Albany, N.Y., Williams and Wilson began developing a simple, elegant communication interface based on brain activity related to changes in an object on screen.

The interface consists, essentially, of a keyboard displayed on a computer screen. "The way this works is that all the letters come up, and each one of them flashes individually," says Williams. "And what your brain does is, if you're looking at the 'R' on the screen and all the other letters are flashing, nothing happens. But when the 'R' flashes, your brain says, 'Hey, wait a minute. Something's different about what I was just paying attention to.' And you see a momentary change in brain activity."

Wilson, who used the interface to post the Twitter update, likens it to texting on a cell phone. "You have to press a button four times to get the character you want," he says of texting. "So this is kind of a slow process at first."

However, as with texting, users improve as they practice using the interface. "I've seen people do up to eight characters per minute," says Wilson.

A free service, Twitter has been called a "micro-blogging" tool. User updates, called tweets, have a 140-character limit - a manageable message length that fits locked-in users' capabilities, says Williams.

Tweets are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other Twitter users who have signed up to receive them. "So someone could simply tell family and friends how they're feeling today," says Williams. "People at the other end can be following their thread and never know that the person is disabled. That would really be an enabling type of communication means for those people, and I think it would make them feel, in the online world, that they're not that much different from everybody else. That's why we did these things."

Schalk agrees. "This is one of the first - and perhaps most useful - integrations of brain-computer interface techniques with Internet technologies to date," he says.

While widespread implementation of brain-computer interface technologies is still years down the road, Wadsworth Center researchers, as well as those at the University of Tubingen in Germany, are starting in-home trials of the equipment. Wilson, who will finish his Ph.D. soon and begin postdoctoral research at Wadsworth, plans to include Twitter in the trials.

Williams hopes the Twitter application is the nudge researchers need to refine development of the in-home technology. "A lot of the things that we've been doing are more scientific exercises," he says. "This is one of the first examples where we've found something that would be immediately useful to a much larger community of people with neurological deficits."

Funding for the research comes from the National Institutes of Health, the UW-Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, the UW-Madison W.H. Coulter Translational Research Partnership in Biomedical Engineering and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
- Renee Meiller, 608-262-2481,

EDITOR'S NOTE: View and download a video of Wilson using the brain-computer interface to post to Twitter at

CONTACT: Adam Wilson,; Justin Williams, 608-265-3952,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Harnessing the power of Twitter with the hashtag!#!#

On the 26th March 2009 I said "I don't see the point of Twitter" on my blog, but now I appear to be a born-again Twitter user!

It's amazing! It was a gradual build-up, or was it a steady erosion? Either way, over time I started tweeting more frequently and following more and more people. This meant that I also attracted more "followers" (which is always good for the online ego), and these people sent me interesting information and links etc!

The turning point in becoming a Twitter user was harnessing the power of the hashtag! Namely while I was at a conference #celc2010 and watching tweets from another conference #cot2010.

So... what's a hashtag # and what do they do?

Hashtags make all the difference in using Twitter because having a hashtag means that you can follow certain topics, events, people etc. Interestingly #wfot2010 was a very low key event on Twitter because we simply didn't have the numbers in OT circles to create a groundswell of activity (and I know some key people really tried, ClaireOT, EnableOT, Su_BuOT, BridgettPiernik, alisonlaverfaw and Merrolee and even VirtualOT), but it wasn't not enough to create an impact in the Twittersphere.

Over the past weekend I followed more and more topics of interest using hashtags and found that it was both a blessing and a curse. A good example is as Nils pointed out on Facebook, #OT brings in topics of conversation around the Old Testament and Occupational Therapy... among other things. I figure you just "block" those people who always want to talk about the Old Testament instead of occupational therapy, but will that block people who are talking about occupational therapy and the old testament? Yes! I'm not sure that there's a solution to this.

Claire Jones suggested that we need a hashtag system! I agree, we do! So Claire initiated this on the OT 4 OT wiki on a page called "Hashtags List" and we need your help. What hashtags are we already using and what hashtags should we make?

Getting the news you want on Twitter
On another topic around Twitter, it is crucial to have a way to organize where and how you capture Tweets. Sure, you can go to their website and read through the Tweets that have been posted by the people you follow, and you can add your own tweets while you are there. But Twitter is really about getting information in and out fast! So, we need to use an application for Twitter that manages the feeds and organizes them into categories and does this on a mobile device.

I have found four applications so far and tried three: Twitterific, Tweetdeck and HootSuite are the ones I've tried, and today I heard about "Involver" but have not found an iPhone app for this. Tweetdeck and HootSuite are superior to Twitterific, so I would recommend choosing between these. I am not familiar enough yet with HootSuite to say it is better than Tweetdeck, and it appears from a conversation on Mashable today that the jury is "divided" on this.

The main reason to use one of these apps is that they organize information coming in for you. They organize it using the hashtags and searches you have set up, and put them into columns or folders for you. That way you can open up the Twitter app and go to the search that you want. e.g. #wfot2010. It makes it faster and easier to stay up to date with what you want. The other wonderful thing about these apps is they also allow you to feed in updates from Facebook. Tweetdeck lets you add feeds from LinkedIn as well when using it on the internet, but not on the mobile app. HootSuite brings in feeds from Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare.

I'm really interested to know who is using Twitter, what you are using for and how you are managing all that information!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Top 50 Occupational Therapy Blogs

It's nice to get a compliment. So I thought I'd share this with everyone. Kelly Davis from Career Moxie recently discovered my blog and included it in her list of "Top 50 Occupational Therapy Blogs." Click on this link to read about all the blogs Kelly found, how she categorizes them and what she found useful.

What other blogs would you include and why?

My slideshare uploads