Occupational therapy and cones

If a cone fell on the floor, what is the chance that it would land ‘standing up' on its base??

I wonder this because a family member had a total hip replacement and is receiving occupational therapy in a short term rehabilitation facility. In OT they are teaching her how to pick up objects that have fallen on the floor. That seems like a reasonable point of intervention to me: it is important that people avoid placing undue stress on a new hip joint and I am sure that the OT does not want her to bend excessively.

Why, though, does my family member have to pick up cones?

I know a little about cones, more from my experience with geometry than from my experience as an occupational therapist. A cone is a three dimensional geometric shape. It is the locus of all line segments between a base and a point outside the plane. I know that the base of a cone can be any shape as long as it connects to an apex at any point outside the plane of the base. As far as I know there is nothing in her home that is cone-shaped. I don’t know if they have ice cream cones right now – I guess that would be an exception. However, the dog would probably eat it long before someone got to it with a long handled reacher. Anyway, I think it is fair to say that nothing that is cone-shaped regularly finds its way onto the floor.

When I think about the things that people do have to bend to pick up, I think that clothes get dropped on the floor all the time. A magazine or the television remote control probably gets dropped. Tupperware and Tupperware lids always seem to fall out of my cupboards onto the floor, but I don’t think that any of those are cones.

So why do occupational therapists have such a fascination with cones? I suppose I should be thankful for small favors that my family member is not stacking cones. We are still waiting for the OT to start teaching her how to get dressed and use the bathroom. How long should I wait before I ask?


TherapyGirl said…
If you ever need an explanation about what your family is doing during therapy, your therapist should have built a rapport that allows you to feel free to ask. If not, too bad for them, they are working and you are their customer. The idea of object retrieval from the floor is not so much WHAT is on the floor. It is usually the training of the pt to use proper body mechanics and be safe. Cones are a pretty common tool in therapy b/c they ca be used for many tasks. This is probably why this is the object used. -PTA x 13 years
Chris said…
Some present an argument that it DOES matter what is on the floor. This is a good PT/OT philosophy delineation issue, so thanks for your comment.
For the inspired:
Nelson. D. L. (1988). Occupation: Form and performance. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 42. 633-641.
Anonymous said…
Cones! where is the evidence that shows isolated random stupid activities have any relationship to occupations?

Any OT practitioner out there should reconsider using cones and seriously ask the question WHY do you use cones?

Preparatory? nonsense....

Where did the common tool use of cones originate?

Please, lets use occupations in our daily interventions. Without the use of occupations and documenting occupations, are we still occupational therapy?

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