Occupational therapist Sheffield Children's Hospital

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“Seventy per cent of my time is spent dealing with the effects of accidents, especially fractures to fingers and wrists. Trampolines and monkey bars have got a lot to answer for!”

What do you do?

There are four occupational therapists attached to the Children's Hospital. We work mostly with in-patients plus some out-patients. In a nutshell, occupational therapy involves helping people who've been sick or injured do all the daily occupational activities that they need to do. For kids this would include getting dressed, having a bath, eating breakfast, getting to school, playing : all the normal things that most children take for granted.

What is your typical day?

I work with people right up to nineteen years old, though usually my patients are under sixteen. Last week I had a seven week old baby. The problems we see can be caused by short term things like injuries and recovery from operations, or they can be caused by long term illnesses, like cerebral palsy.

Seventy per cent of my time is spent dealing with the effects of accidents, especially fractures to fingers and wrists. Trampolines and monkey bars have got a lot to answer for! Obviously, if you can't use your hands normally, there's lots you can't do. With these types of injuries we help make a plastic, moulded splint for the kid which exactly fits the shape of the hand, to help support, stabilize and reduce pain.

Sometimes we have to help children to learn to walk again after an operation: for example, if their bones have been stretched or reshaped. We make foam coverings for metal surgical leg frames and we are specialists in making foam support shoes.

A normal day for me will often start with a ward round with the doctors to decide which patients need seeing. I also have out-patients to see, plus phone calls throughout the day to deal with. It's never the same. Yesterday I had to deal with a boy who'd damaged the nerves in his hand and needed a splint. Another kid had had a breast reduction operation and needed a special vest made of tight lycra to stop scar tissue and fluids from building up.