Assignment: External Activities
Problem III. The Health System Is Not Oriented Toward the Human Being
GOAL: Develop human oriented programs encouraging man to explore his potential in producing a change in his own health status. The human that enters the health system has little knowledge of this situation and the health professional little of the individual’s situation. We are nothing more than a bystander in the life of that individual until a rela- tionship is formed. Our service delivery is initiated by assessment with a resulting relationship that has the potential of making
impact on that individual. It would be difficult to expect an individual to be at home in a sterile and unfamiliar environment that has
produced chaos. The individual must establish some control over the forces of chaos. In establishing control the client demonstrates a variety of behaviors, either by an internal mental operation or by external activity (19). Occupational therapists have the skills, attitude, and knowledge to provide the relationship and the structure through activity to introduce meaning to that individual and thus give him control.
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1980 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture
In Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins tells of a personal experience with Pablo Casals that had a profound impact on him. I want to share it with you because it so poignantly expresses activity and its ability to produce mean- ing in the human.
I learned that a highly developed purpose and a will to live are among the prime raw materials of human existence. I became convinced that these materials may well represent the most potent force within human reach. . . . About Pablo Casals.
I met him for the first time at his home in Puerto Rico just a few weeks before his ninetieth birthday. I was fascinated by his daily routine. About 8 A.M. his lovely young wife Marta would help him to start the day. His various infirmities made it difficult for him to dress himself. Judging from his difficulty in walking and from the way he held his arms, I guessed he was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. His emphysema was evident in his labored breathing. He came into the living room on Marta’s arm. He was badly stooped. His head was pitched forward and he walked with a shuffle. His hands were swollen and his fingers were clenched.
Even before going to the breakfast table, Don Pablo went to the piano—which, I learned, was a daily ritual. He arranged himself with some difficulty on the piano bench, then with discernible effort raised his swollen and clenched fingers above the keyboard.
I was not prepared for the miracle that was about to happen. The fingers slowly unlocked and reached toward the keys like the buds of a plant toward the sunlight. His back straightened. He seemed to breathe more freely. Now his fingers settled on the keys. Then came the opening bars of Bach’sWohltemperierte Klavier, played with great sensitivity and control. I had forgotten that Don Pablo had achieved proficiency on several musical instruments before he took up the cello. He hummed as he played, then said that Bach spoke to him here—and he placed his hand over his heart.
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