Independent Occupational Therapist
'British Journal of Healthcare Assistants'
April Vol 7 No 4 (174-179)
Understanding head injuries
The term head injury covers a multitude of injuries,
from mild concussion to severe brain damage.
This article includes basic anatomy of the brain and explains the different
types of head injuries and initial treatment.
September Vol 7 No 9 (432-437)
Rehabilitation of patients with head injuries
Head-injured patients experience diverse problems, including physical,
cognitive, behavioural, or emotional dysfunction. Many people help
to regain a patient's former level of abilities or teach adaptive
This article outlines the different roles of the rehabilitation team,
and the vital role HCAs and APs have in the rehabilitation of a head-injured
December Vol 7 No 12 (614 - 617)
Dementia and reminiscence: not just a focus on the past
This article explores the development of reminiscence as an activity
in the care home for patients with dementia. Ways that care staff
can facilitate memory recall with their residents using person-centred
methods are described.
(NB: This article also appeared in December 2013 issue of Nursing
& Residential Care and was reproduced with permission of the author
February Vol 6 No 2 (59-62)
Osteoporosis: the fragile bone disease
Healthcare staff need to have an understanding of why osteoporosis occurs.
How to prevent it, is important; not only to enable healthcare staff to help
their patients, but also to prevent this condition within their own health.
This article explains what causes osteoporosis and ways that healthcare staff
can be proactive in its prevention.
Vol 6 No 6 (279-284)
Childhood obesity is largely preventable: HCAs/APs can help
The prevalence of obesity amongst schoolchildren appears to be
increasing, highlighting major risks for the health of the future adult
population. Excess weight can lead to serious health problems in adult life,
but problems can also develop during childhood. This article outlines the
causes and effects of childhood obesity, describing how healthcare assistants
and associated practitioners can help families and children to understand
July Vol 6 No 7 (279-283)
Curvature of the spine: in health and illness
The spine is at the centre of the skeletal structure. It supports the body
and, together with the ribcage, protects vital organs. The spine contains
neurological structure which can be damaged if spinal problems occur. This
article explains the structure of the spine and the problems that can arise
due to curvature.
January Vol 5 No 1 p15-17
Understanding rheumatoid arthritis: causes and treatment
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic progressive disease causing
inflammation and swelling of various joints of the body. This results in pain
and stiffness, and can produce a marked reduction of functioning, affecting
daily life. This article describes RA and its treatment with relation to the
role of healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners.
February Vol 5 No 2 p60-64
Increasing the awareness of heart disease and treatments
Many health professionals, including healthcare assistants and assistant
practitioners, meet people affected by heart disease, or know someone close
to them who has suffered from a heart problem.
The economic costs to the UK
are large, however many heart conditions can be prevented, or their effects
minimised, with the help of HCAs and APs. This article introduces the subject
of heart conditions, discusses the cardiac system, symptoms of heart disease
February Vol 5 No 2 p78-81
Managing rheumatoid arthritis: joint protection and treatment
Rheumatoid Arthritis causes pain, inflammation and stiffness in the
synovial joints, turning simple everyday activities into challenges. Part 1
of this series outlined the physical changes that occur in joints affected by
Rheumatoid Arthritis and explained medical treatment. This article discusses
how adopting alternative methods and using assistive equipment makes
management of tasks easier for patients suffering with this painful disease.
April Vol 5 No 4 p174-178
Assisting people with Motor Neurone Disease
Motor Neurone Disease is a group of progressive neuromuscular diseases in
which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralysed. It can affect
men or women and occurs in people of all ethnic groups. This article explains
motor neurone disease, its impact on newly diagnosed patients and how
healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners can help those with this
May Vol 5 No 5 p174-178
Motor Neurone Disease: research, treatment and care
Clinicians and researchers do not fully understand why Motor Neurone Disease
(MND) occurs yet they know how the body is affected. Unfortunately, this
means that there is currently no cure for MND and the disease cannot be
prevented, although the symptoms of the various forms of MND can be reduced.
This is the second article in a series on MND that outlines current treatment
as well as potential future treatments that are currently undergoing clinical
trials. It also looks at ways in which those with the conditions can be
assisted by support workers.
June Vol 5 No 6 p174-178
The impact of Motor Neurone Disease on daily activity
Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a term used for a group of related disorders
that cause selective and progressive functional loss of the upper and lower
motor neurones that control movement.
This third, and final, article in the series discusses the effect of MND on
daily live and how support workers can help patients to cope with the
practical problems that they encounter.
September Vol 5 No 9 436-439
Preventing falls by reducing risk and encouraging activity
Although people of all ages can suffer major injuries from a fall, older
people are at an increased risk of falling. Many falls are caused by a loss
of balance, slipping on a wet surface or tripping over a hazard. Even minor
falls, trips or slips can lead to loss of dignity and adversely effect
confidence and mobility.
This article explains how healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners
can help to reduce the risk factors of a fall by removing environmental
hazards and being aware of a patient's medical problems.
Exercise can also play an importance part in fall-prevention.
October Vol 5 No 10 483-486
Understanding the common triggers and effects of stress
Stress is an important natural reaction that helps people to deal with
potential problems, whether real or imaginary. Everyone experiences stress at
some time during their lives, and we react to it in different ways. The
article explains stress and how it affects our bodies, and discusses ways to
November Vol 5 No 11
Energy-saving techniques to help manage fatigue
Excessive fatigue produces physical and psychological difficulties
that can affect a person’s ability to manage daily living activities.
This article outlines common causes of fatigue and energy-saving methods that
can help patients to manage their symptoms.
December Vol 5 No 12 (580-583)
Abnormal movement: understanding why this occurs
Within many clinical settings, HCAs and APs encounter patients who present
with movement patterns that may deviate from what are considered to be normal
fluid movements. Abnormal movements may occur at rest, during an activity, or
be present all the time. This article describes how movement is controlled,
why abnormal movement patterns emerge, and how HCAs and APs can help
January Vol 4 No 1 (22-25)
Coping with tinnitus
There is no simple cure for tinnitus, but various coping strategies can be
tried to reduce its impact.
This article outlines the ways that patients can be helped to cope with the
symptom of tinnitus.
February Vol 4 No 2 (63-70)
Dual Sensory Impairment: causes and diagnosis
The two senses of sight and hearing provide the majority of information
that people gain from their environment but problems can arise at birth or
during childhood and adult life. There are many causes of impairments of
sight and hearing that result in deafblindness, also called dual sensory
Patients who have dual sensory loss will have problems managing within a
clinical setting and every day life. Previous articles in this series have
concentrated on vision and heating as two separate entities.
This article explains the reasons for dual sensory loss and outlines ways
that HCAs and APs can ensure that patients are helped, particularly within a
March Vol 4 No 3 (139-142)
Improving the quality of life of people with deafblindness
This final article in the series on sensory loss concentrates on helping
deafblind people to communicate more easily, improve their mobility and
manage the practical activities of daily living.
Healthcare staff have an important role to play in helping deafblind people
access local services and in providing support.
April Vol 4 No 4 (166-169)
Simple ways to prevent falls
Falls are a leading cause of death in people older than 75, and it is
estimated that up to 40% of reported safety incidents in inpatient involve a
fall. People of all ages can suffer major injuries from a fall, although older
people are at an increasing rate of falling. Even a minor fall can lead to a
loss of confidence and mobility. Four hundred risk factors have been
identified and may of these can be addressed by healthcare assistants and
assistant practitioners in the course of their work. Environmental hazards
can be removed and patients who are at high risk due to medication, visual
and other problems can be monitored and assisted to prevent falls.
May Vol 4 No 5 (236-240)
Avoiding slip and trips
Most accidents to patients, visitors and staff occur due to slips and trips.
This article explores ways that healthcare assistants and assistant
practitioners can help to prevent slips and trips within, and outside, of
their workplace by ensuring that fall-risks are reduced in the ward, clinic
or a person's home environment.
June Vol 4 No 6 (294-298)
Ways of doing things to maintain independence
At any age, a debilitating illness or a progressive health condition can
produce difficulties when managing even simple tasks. Decreased activity will
require ever-increasing help and it is important for HCAs and APs to
understand how to break this cycle of growing dependency.
HCAs or APs can enable patients to manage more efficiently within their own
homes by altering the method used. Often, equipment can be used or structural
alterations can be made to a patient's home.
This article discusses the various options that are available and provides
information on sources of help and solutions.
July Vol 4 No 7 (338 - 342)
Across all age groups throughout most of the developed world, the incidence
of overweight and obesity is rising. The impact of this on a person's health
and, in particular, the management of over-sized patients affects service
delivery within hospitals, clinics and a person's own home. Obesity is a risk
factor for several diseases that are major causes of morbidity and mortality.
This article, the first in a series, discusses the differences between people
who are overweight, obese or bariatric and explores the ways obesity impacts
on a person's health.
August Vol 4 No 8 (396-399)
Managing patients who are overweight
The weight and size of the UK
population is increasing. Many healthcare assistants and assistant
practitioners look after patients who are obese, or of Bariatric proportions.
Some Bariatric patients require assistance with mobility and daily living
activities, but care must be provided in an effective and safe manner. This
second article on Bariatrics outlines the treatment and management of
Bariatric patients within a hospital, clinic or community setting.
September Vol 4 No 9 (424-429)
Explaining the symptoms of pain
Pain is a subjective sensation that generally alerts the body to an area that
requires attention, protection or rest. It is a common - and often the main -
symptom of many conditions. This article explores the causes and effects of
pain. It also provides details of the various forms of pain assessment.
October Vol 4 No 10 (494-497)
Helping patients to manage pain and its symptoms
Pain often limits a patient's ability to manage everyday activities. It is
therefore not surprising that one of the fundamental objectives of health
care is the relief of pain.
This second article of a two-part series outlines the options available to
patients who suffer from pain.
November Vol 4 No 11 (534-537)
Putting pain to flight: making use of alternative methods
Persistent pain can occur after injury or a medical problem. Although
medication and other forms of medical and conservative treatment can help to
relieve or eradicate symptoms, there are other options available to patients.
However, psychological and social factors can prolong pain.
This article outlines the psychological effects of pain and explores
alternative forms of treatment.
December Vol 4 No 12 (583-585)
Monitoring movement: detecting impaired mobility
Healthcare assistants and associate practitioners can help patients to
improve their mobility in many ways. Impaired mobility can be caused by a
range of factors from joint injuries and lethargy to cognitive and sensory
problems. This article focuses on how movement is achieved and problems that
can arise which prevent patients doing functional activities successfully.
January Vol 3 No 1:
Osteoarthritis part 3: living with the condition
This article describes how health care assistants can help patients to manage
their symptoms of osteoarthritis. The roles of other professions, methods of
overcoming problems and ways of minimising problem areas are discussed to
enable people to be as independent as possible.
February Vol 3 No 2:
Cervical spondylosis part 1: osteoarthritis of the cervical spine
Degenerative changes are common within bones and joints, due to excessive
'wear and tear', resulting in osteoarthritis. When these symptoms appear in
the cervical region of the spinal vertebrae, this degenerative process is
termed cervical spondylosis. A multitude of problems can occur, ranging from
mild localised pain and discomfort to a major dysfunction of the nervous
system. This article explains cervical spondylosis and outlines the main
forms of treatment.
March Vol 3 No 3:
Cervical spondylosis part 2: coping with the condition
This is the second part of a series on cervical spondylosis, a degenerative
condition, which can cause pain, loss of mobility and problems managing daily
life. Surgery, therapeutic intervention and practical ways to overcome
problems are outlined to help healthcare staff enable patients to be as
independent and pain-free as possible.
April Vol 3 No 4:
Ankylosing Spondylitis: care and treatment
Ankylosing Spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the connective
tissue of the joints. Although the first symptoms can be traced to childhood,
it is not formally diagnosed until several clinical signs and symptoms are
present. This article outlines this painful condition.
May Vol 3 No 5: ( 2 articles )
Ankylosing Spondylitis: living with the condition
Ankylosing Spondylitis can cause pain, fatigue and limitation of joint
mobility, particularly within the spinal column. These symptoms can affect a
person's ability to cope with many activities of daily life.
By the adoption of alternative techniques, many tasks can be made easier to
However, sometimes it may be necessary to consider the provision of assistive
devices and adaptation of property or the alteration of a work environment.
This article explores the impact of Ankylosing Spondylitis on a person's
daily life and outlines ways to help to make activities easier to manage. It
suggests ways that HCAs and APs can facilitate this process.
Most people who drive can access and operate the controls of a car easily,
but loss of function can cause difficulties for some. This article explores
the practical problems that can be encountered with driving and outlines ways
of finding help to manage them.
June Vol 3 No 6: (PDF File 3.7MB)
Car adaptations to facilitate driving
When considerable functional problems cause difficulties with driving,
extensive modifications may be needed to an existing vehicle or a
purpose-made car may be required. Most production vehicles can be adapted to
cope with complex disabilities. This article examines the mobility allowance,
some car adaptations and looks at additional sources of funding a vehicle.
July Vol 3 no 7: (PDF File 2.5MB)
Understanding vision part 1: structure and mechanics
Our vision enables us to gain considerable information about our environment.
Most people with a visual impairment have a substantial reduction of vision,
but are not totally blind. This article describes the visual system and some
of the causes of visual problems. It also outlines the vital role of HCAs and
APs in the early detection of visual problems.
August Vol 3 No 8:
Understanding vision part 2: coping with complications
Healthcare assistants and associated practitioners may encounter people of
all age ranges who have visual problems that affect their ability to manage
daily living activities. This article outlines how healthcare staff can help
to assess the impact of visual impairments on patients. It also describes
some of the present range of assistive equipment and how patients can obtain
additional information and help.
September Vol 3 No 9:
Understanding hearing and causes of hearing loss
Hearing helps us to understand and negotiate the environment and assists in
communication with others. Even a mild hearing loss causes problems with
identification of everyday sounds such as voices, the doorbell and the
telephone ringing. Severe hearing loss profoundly affects a person's ability
to communicate effectively and to participate in many leisure activities.
Many of the UK's
population experience hearing problems, but some may be unaware of the extent
unless it is brought to their attention. This article explores the process of
hearing and some of the causes of hearing impairments.
October Vol 3 no 10:
Hearing impairments: problems and assistive devices
With an increase in the prevalence of hearing loss, it is likely that
healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners will encounter patients who
have impaired hearing during their daily work. This article discusses some
ways to overcome problem areas that hearing impairment causes, and concentrates
on alternative communication and assistive equipment.
November Vol 3 No 11
Hearing impairment: environmental considerations
The ability to hear can be substantially reduced if there are background
noises or poor acoustics. If the environment is suitably designed from the
outset, this can help to minimize hearing loss and enable people to
communicate more effectively. This article aims to increase awareness in
healthcare staff of environmental considerations and the impact of hearing
problems within a workplace.
December Vol 3 No 12
Tuning in to tinnitus
Tinnitus is becoming increasingly common. This article explains the symptoms
of tinnitus, and factors that can contribute to it. Prevention is a key
issue. This article also highlights the range of available treatments, from
self-management to specialist care
January Vol 2 No 1:
Common neurological disorders: Parkinson's disease
This article on Parkinsonism is the first of a series on common neurological
disorders. It describes the clinical presentation of Parkinsonism,
explaining the main symptoms and medical treatments. It is important for
healthcare assistants to recognise the signs and symptoms so that they can
be proactive in seeking appropriate help for sufferers.
February Vol 2 No 2:
Parkinson's disease part 2: when rhythm is impaired
Parkinson's Disease and Parkinsonism affect the execution of movement
patterns. This causes many problem areas inside and outside a person's home
environment. This article outlines how healthcare assistants and assistant
practitioners can assist people with Parkinsonian symptoms and help with
March Vol 2 No 3:
Parkinsonism - assistive devices and adaptations
This article describes how Parkinsonian symptoms can produce difficulties
with activities of daily living. Adaptations and assistive devices are
discussed that can help overcome problem areas and improve levels of
April Vol 2 No 4:
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
This article is the first in a series on Multiple Sclerosis. It describes how
this neurological disease affects a person's level of abilities.
May Vol 2 No 5:
Multiple Sclerosis part 2: feeding problems
This is the second in a series of articles on multiple sclerosis (MS). This
article focuses on difficulties faced by people with MS with feeding. These
problems can be tackled in a variety of ways and the article considers and
explains these solutions.
June Vol 2 No 6
Multiple Sclerosis part 3: affects on daily life
Multiple sclerosis is the most common cause of neurological disability in
younger people and can start at an age when people are establishing careers
and a family. This article provides an introduction to ways that healthcare
staff can help with management of daily living tasks.
July Vol 2 No 7:
Helping individuals to overcome fatigue
Fatigue affects many people and can be a result of another illness or
condition such as multiple sclerosis or depression. It can also occur as a
side-effect of certain medications. It is important to treat fatigue as it
can severely affect a person’s standard of life.
August Vol 2 No 8:
This article discusses how and why a stroke happens. It aims to encourage
healthier lifestyles to reduce the risk of a stroke. A mini-glossary is
September Vol 2 No 9:
Strokes: overcoming practical problems
Following a stroke there can be many problems with management of tasks and
coping with daily life. It can be frustrating to attempt tasks that were
previously carried out with ease or, in many cases, automatically. It is
important to support and empower individuals to enable them to regain control
of their own lives and to manage activities of daily living more easily. This
article describes some techniques and equipment to help restore abilities in
October Vol 2 No 10
Stroke: helping recovery
Healthcare staff should have a basic understanding of the principles
behind rehabilitation and work as part of a team. If everyone follows
the same the same techniques, the maximum benefit can be provided
to patients. This article discusses problems that a person with a
stroke may encounter, and explores some rehabilitation techniques
used in treatment programmes.
November Vol 2 No11 (PDF File 2MB)
Stroke: Environmental barriers
A stroke can have a devastating effect not only on a person's physical
function but also on their cognitive and perceptual abilities. This
article concentrates on difficulties that can occur for people who
have suffered from a stroke that cause problems managing their environment.
It will describe ways to make access easier and facilitate the management
December Vol 2 No12
Osteoarthritis part 2: understanding the condition
There are over 200 musculosketetal conditions affecting millions of
people, both adults and children, including all forms of arthritis,
back pain and osteoporosis (Department of Health, 2006). This article
is the second in a mini-series on osteoarthritis in the HCA journal.
The causes and effects of the condition are discussed and methods
of reducing risk factors are outlined.
Articles have also been published in:
Email: BoxNum 1242
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