Monday, June 2, 2014

Think Small: How the little things make the biggest difference

Definitely counter-intuitive...especially when you view it from the rehabilitation perspective.  The instinctive thing is to think BIG...what will be the singular plan towards my rehabilitative goals.

I recently saw an interesting report on television that studied the decline in some pre-school kids in China.  The researchers were examining scholastic teaching habits, pre-school formats and scheduling, even down to the books themselves.  One day, one of the researchers noticed that none of the children they were using as their test group were wearing glasses.  Was it because children in China has inherently better eyesight?  What they found was that almost 45% of the kids actually NEEDED glasses but could not afford them.  So they embarked on a different trajectory and split their study group into two parts: one group were given glasses (those who needed them) and the other group remained as previous.  The results were surprising...the group that were given glasses experienced a significant increase in test scores and overall performance.  Indeed, this is an example of how tackling the small things can yield exponential results.

This can fundamentally be extrapolated into the rehabilitation domain.  The search for the "wonder drug" will always continue...and the discovery of a "super-technique" will always be in the works...but the small things are the most immediate and accessible resources at our disposal (both as practitioners and patients).  In fact, most empirical evidence demonstrates that the addition of the "small things" potentiates the effectiveness of any and all other strategies...essentially making them the most important catalyst for improvement, especially when the subject is a child.

The "small things" are it would be next to impossible to list them, but they are fundamentally based in the idea that the senses and emotions carry an important weight in the rehabilitation equation. 

-Aromas and scents
-soft music
-mindful nutrition
-purposeful activities that generate feelings of accomplishment
-exposure to sunlight, sea, and the earth

Each situation is a unique environment and therefore each "small things list" will reflect a different flavour...but the idea has been proven to yield excellent benefits. 

The small things are equivalent to the stitching in any fabric.  Even though the quilt is a marvelously beautiful and functional product, it's effectiveness lies in the intricacy and collective contribution of each individual stitch and thread.  

There is a best-selling book called "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" eloquent self-help read that is both entertaining and useful.  But within the more complex world of don't need to "sweat" the small things, but most certainly be purposeful and mindful.