Occupational Therapists play pivotal roles in the education and self-management planning for diabetics. November is American Diabetes Month, a reminder to OT professionals everywhere that their work matters to the 26 million children and adults living with the disease and the approximately 79 million pre-diabetics. By helping set simple, practical and achievable goals, therapists help minimize disease progression while instilling healthier lifestyle choices for their patients. These goals must address seven behaviors that the American Association of Diabetes Educators cite as essential to positive disease management: healthy eating; sufficient physical activity; monitoring of glucose, blood pressure, weight and foot health; consistent and proper medication administration; coping skills; problem solving skills; and reducing risks through smoking cessation and regular dental, foot and eye exams.
There are some exciting, new innovations in diabetes control and self-management that show great promise for implementation in the field. One new technology,still in development by the KNOWME Networks project, is a collaboration between USC’s Schools of Medicine and the Engineering. It is a wearable device, either as a wristband or chest band, to monitor the physical activity, vital signs and metabolic health of the user. Lead researcher, Dr. Donna Spruijt-Metz, geared studies towards Hispanic and African-American teenagers, who exhibit a higher incidence of obesity than the general population. Bluetooth enabled sensors send data to smartphones, and after analysis, results are texted back to the teens. Although researchers were initially concerned with compliance, the small test sample was fully compliant and made behavioral changes in conjunction with researchers’ suggestions based on the data.
Diabetes care has increasingly become a team effort, with Occupational Therapists taking a leading role. Technology, such as the above, will soon make the task easier, more efficient and ensure patient compliance. If you are an OT looking to work with diabetics and make a difference in their lives call the Centra Team at 800 535 0076.