For this last blog I will be focusing on the importance of family and kinship within the medical field. Family is a fundamental building block for the survival of life as well as an important factor of social evolution. The concept of family has been around for centuries. Family has a basic role in all societies; it is the social history in which it interests the sociocultural evolution of kinship groups dating from prehistoric times to modern day. (Hareven 1991, p. 95) According to www.merriam-webster.com the definition of family has a variety of options, one being “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family” (2013). It is clear that a family consists of more than one person and social units that work together in order to survive. As learned in previous Human Development courses there are several different cultures that function as a family in different ways, such as the matrilocal type, which consists of a mother and her children. There is also a conjugal or nuclear classification where a husband, wife, and children function as a family, which is a typical family in the Western world. And lastly, but not only, there is a consanguineal classification, which includes extended family. It is obvious that different cultures may use these different classifications, but it is up to them to survive and function as a unit by supporting and providing for each other.
Within the field of medicine family has a large impact on health care, whether it be genetic dispositions or the support and care a patient may need away from health care providers; family is usually the general source of upbringing. From birth to childhood we always rely on our parents, close relatives, or friends to provide support and teach us fundamental skills. Although every family is different, people are aware that they have some sort of support system when needing assistance during health care decisions such as appointments, transfers from doctors to therapy, etc.
In my internship, family plays a significant role in the facility. For instance, every child that comes for therapy, whether of age or not, has some sort of family assistance during each appointment. Whether a family member is attending therapy, bringing siblings in to support the patient, or even participating in the therapy with the child, family is always present. This involvement is a crucial part of therapy, not only because some of the children are physically incapable of doing things on their own, but to also encourage the family members to practice exercises at home. Another reason why it is important for family to be present is because they too can be educated on their child’s/sibling’s physical impairment.
During physical therapy and occupational therapy the patient has the opportunity to play and do things that they might enjoy, while also learning what techniques work best for them. The evaluations and goal setting environment requires the opinions and judgments from the patient as well as the parents in order to provide a strong basis for the child to progress. The presence of an adult or family member is important for the patient as well, due to the level of comfort they contain. Considering children with cerebral palsy (a physical disability) may not be able to do things as an average child would and may actually require assistance of some sort. A study specifically around cerebral palsy found evidence for the preference for adult company, the most weighted item, followed by lack of close friendships, loneliness, being bullied, and not being liked in diminishing order. (Bjorgaas, 2013, p. 4). In therapy it is essential to provide fundamental building blocks for these children to survive in the real world, without their friends, but still have the option to rely on their family for support. It is crucial to provide this support system for children or adults that have physical or cognitive disabilities. Although therapy may be once or twice a week, the majority of a patient’s time is spent at home or school with friends and family.
The determined and involved families continue to amaze me in this field of occupational therapy. Out of all of my experiences I have never been so inspired as I am now at this clinic, being able to see the positive reinforcement and success stories has been delightful to be a part of. I am also learning a lot regarding how OT functions within pediatrics with cerebral palsy and spina bifida simply by observing as well as doing my own research of techniques. Considering my combination of experience in the medical field and my current involvement with the occupational therapists through my internship this validated my desire to become an occupational therapist, as well as proven to make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities.
Family definition . (2013). Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/family
Tamara K. Hareven, “The history of the family and the complexity of social change,” American Historical Review, Feb 1991, Vol. 96 Issue 1, pp. 95-124
Bjorgaas,, H. M., Elgen, I., Boe, T., & Hysing, M. (2013). Mental health in children with cerebral palsy: Does screening capture the complexity?. The Scientific World Journal, 2013(468402), 1-7. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/468402
Hours Completed in Current Period: 31 hours
Total Hours Completed: 93 hours