Occupational Therapy in Sarajevo

After our first mission in Sarajevo, it clearly became evident to us that there was a general lack of awareness and knowledge of adaptive equipment used for personal care. While the purpose and theory of Occupational Therapy is taught at the university level in a few health care programs, the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not recognize OT as a stand-alone profession within the country.
Team Canada Healing Hands visited with many individuals diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy who reported difficulty with tying shoe laces, closing buttons on a shirt, scooping food off their plate and threading their feet through the legs of their pants.
Assessment and education were provided with a variety of adaptive aids brought from Canada including long handle shoe horns, plate guards, shoe button closures, elastic shoe laces, long handle reachers, dressing hooks and pant grips. While these items are easily accessible and used daily for people with disabilities living in Canada, they were unknown in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It was amazing to see the surprise on the clients face when the tools were demonstrated and the smile we received when the individual realized they had gained a little bit more independence was incredible.
The photo shows one of those clients learning to use a button hook to close her sweater. The lack of movement and strength in her hands meant that she had to have someone button her clothes. In addition to the button hook she was successful with using the long handle shoe horn and shoe buttons to put on her shoes and tie them and used the long handle reacher to put on her pants. She no longer has to wait for her caregiver to assist with her dressing!