Monday, November 28, 2011

The role of the occupational therapist in carpet cleaning

Jimmy was especially active and his mom was having a really difficult time keeping him occupied while she filled out his intake paperwork. His mom was a little frazzled as Jimmy darted around the room, jumped onto the chairs, pulled on the curtains (pulling them off the rod!), and banged on the windows. I intervened at the window banging for safety reasons and as I gently redirected Jimmy he lunged for his mom's coffee, and with a spray of cappuchino across the carpeted waiting room he finally paused.

"Oops," he said, as his mom gave him The Stare. Jimmy froze.

Mom froze too, and after surveying the mess she excused herself to the bathroom. I stayed with Jimmy who suddenly realized he was supposed to be sitting quietly.

Mom returned with some paper towels. The unfinished paperwork sat on the chair, and she cried as she dabbed at the rug. Jimmy knew enough to stare straight ahead at the toy on the child sized table and play quietly.

His mom was upset about the rug and worried that it would leave a stain. "I just don't know what to do!" she said between sobs. "I can't even take him somewhere to get help without it being a disaster."

I really didn't care about the rug because it can be cleaned. Also, cappuchino is relatively benign when I think about all the possible things that can get spilled onto a floor. "It's really ok," I said, attempting to reassure Jimmy's mom. She couldn't hear me and asked for some cleanser.

Soap is an emulsifier because it can take a substance like cappuchino and disperse it into another liquid, like water. Soap micelles have long hydrocarbon chains that help isolate oils or grime so they can be 'cleaned' or 'removed.'

I was thinking that maybe the paperwork was more important than the cleanser and that maybe for the short term the water would be enough to provide a diluted mixture to blot up and reabsorb the coffee into the paper towels. That wasn't enough for the mom though. She wanted some cleanser.

I watched the mom scrub and scrub at the floor, and I figured that is what she did with Jimmy too. I imagined her taking Jimmy against a washboard and scrubbing with all of her might. I bet she tried everything she could so that she could remove the behavioral difficulties that interfered with his participation in school.

You can scrub all day sometimes, and it just isn't enough.

Foaming agents are added to detergent products because somewhere along the line of history people started associating soap bubbles with ACTION. The bubbles might help some, but they aren't really required for the emulsification process. That's my very basic understanding of the chemistry of how this stuff works anyway. The mom wanted ACTION. She wanted to see her scrubbing effort make bubbles. Bubbles meant the rug was getting cleaned.

Maybe bubbles would mean that Jimmy's behavior could improve too, if only we were scrubbing hard enough in the right direction and with the right effort.

I found some rug cleaner and dabbed it into the carpet as I knelt next to mom and handed her a scrub brush. I grabbed a second brush and went to work on the carpet.

"I bet we can get that out no problem," I said hopefully as I scrubbed and scrubbed. Jimmy's mom smiled.

2 comments:

matthew Occupational Therapist said...

Love the title - sounds like there's a book in there somewhere!?

Chris said...

Thanks Matthew - but I view my blog as my 'book.' I published once - and perhaps that is enough!

Also, an editor might yell at me about my grammar - and I like to keep the tone conversational most of the time.