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Michael grabs tasks with both hands

Published 28th June, 2019

With help from his therapy team, Michael Piazzola is taking on daily tasks with both hands and discovering new independence. 

Michael is a 9 year-old boy who loves to play football and spend time with his family. He has a diagnosis of Erb’s Palsy, which is a nerve disorder caused by significant injury to the large network of nerves running from the neck to the arm during development inside the womb, or during childbirth.

As a result of his diagnosis, Michael has limited movement, muscle weakness and reduced sensation in his left arm, which makes everyday tasks such as using cutlery, getting dressed and tying shoelaces a bit of a challenge. But with assistance from Therapy Focus Occupational Therapist, Annika Helenius, and Advanced Physiotherapist, Sinead Creedon, Michael is learning ways to manage these tasks independently. 

“We encouraged Michael to use his affected hand for fun, two-handed activities, such as Play-Doh and card games, as well as making toasted sandwiches for himself and his sisters”, Annika said.

“We also trialled a variety of adapted forks and used a weekly checklist to monitor how many times per week he successfully used a knife and fork at mealtimes.”

“Michael now uses his affected hand to stabilise foods with a specially adapted fork, and then uses his right non-affected hand to cut his food with a knife.”

Michael was also given wrist and elbow splints, which were fabricated and reviewed by his therapy team at Perth Children’s Hospital. These were worn by Michael on alternate nights, with his wrist splint also worn during therapy activities to place his left hand in a more functional position.

Michael’s now on a roll when it comes to acquiring new skills. He has recently learnt the new skill of buttoning his school shirt using a new one-handed buttoning technique and is now focusing on shoe lace tying and filling up his water bottle at school with help from his therapy team. 

For more information about the range of therapy services we offer, visit our comprehensive therapy page

Michael tying his shoelaces with help from therapist, Annika

Pictured: Michael practising tying his shoelaces with help from Occupational Therapist, Annika. 

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