Welcome to the RIKC Blog

Monday, December 1, 2014

Feelin' Frosty

Regardless if you rely on a persimmon, the farmer’s almanac, wooly worms or the meteorologist there is one thing that is certain. This winter will be cold.  Mother Nature has snow, ice, sleet and freezing temperatures in store for the Midwest again this winter.  Whether you are a summer sweetheart or winter worshiper there are steps to take to prevent seasonal injuries. 
Winter brings activities that you cannot access any other time of year.  Whether building snowmen or sledding, winter can be a magical time of year.  We have created a list of things to watch out for when the temperatures drop. 

Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.  Before going out into the piercing wintery air don’t forget the acronym COLD.  
Cover – Don’t forget to bundle up before heading outside!
Avoid overheating – Sweat and cold air can be a bad mixture and cause you to lose body heat more quickly.
Loose layers – Loose layers allow you to shed outer layers if you become hot and hold in body heat better.  Outer layers should be water resistant so avoid cotton if possible.
Dry clothing – If your clothing does get wet be sure to change as fast as possible.  Mittens and boots are perfect places for snow to hide so be sure to keep your hands and feet dry as well. 
Other safety precautions to help avoid Hypothermia include making sure you go indoors frequently to warm up.  If you must travel in inclement weather be sure to let someone know where you are going and pack blankets and warm clothing in the vehicle in case of car trouble. 

Frostbite occurs when body tissue literally freezes!  Your ears, nose, cheeks, fingers and toes are most likely to get frostbite.  Anyone can get frostbite if exposed to the cold for long periods of time or from extremely cold temperatures for a short period of time.   Frostbite and Hypothermia are known to occur together.  Follow the same prevention measures for frostbite as hypothermia.  If you suspect you or someone you know may have frostbite, do not use direct heat on the affected areas.  Obtain medical attention immediately.

Slips and falls are the number one cause of accidental injury, according to OSHA, especially in winter weather.  Use handrails when walking up and down stairs or ramps.  Resist the temptation to walk with your hands in your pockets; if you feel unbalanced your upper extremities could help you regain balance.  Carefully exit vehicles; you never know what the footing is like until you get out of your car. 

Ice Skating is a popular winter pastime for all ages.  Year after year ice rinks open their doors to hundreds of people at a time.  Even with rink guards on duty, falls and injuries are still common.  Injury prevention can be very easy with a few simple precautions.      
When trying on your skates make sure that they fit properly.  Poorly fitting skates can cause blisters and sores as well as an unbalanced base for skating. 
Always look ahead at where you are skating and skate in the same direction as traffic.
Young children and beginners should always wear a helmet to avoid concussion or traumatic brain injury. 
If you are skating on a frozen pond do not go on the ice without testing it first.  The ice must be at least 6 inches thick all of the way through to be safe to skate on according to the Department of Natural Resources. 
Never skate alone or at night.
In the case of an emergency a cell phone should be near by to call for help. 
Sledding has been a winter tradition for many years.  As the white powdery snow coats the hills and valleys the sled that has been stored away begins to call.  Sledding can be fun but it can also be dangerous and can cause injuries. 
Before heading outside this winter make sure that you choose a safe hill in advance. 
Make sure the hill is not too steep and is covered in snow and not ice. 
The hill should also be clear of hazards such as trees, ponds, rocks or fences. 
Do not sled on a hill that ends on a street or parking lot.

Never sled while being pulled behind a vehicle, ATV or tractor.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Indoor Boredom Busters!

The temperatures are getting colder and winter is quickly approaching.  As a fresh coat of snow covers the ground, families can get a little stir crazy.  Plan ahead with a list of our top 10 favorite indoor activities for your child!  (Or if you want to spend a day in your jammies on the couch watching movies sometimes, that’s ok too.)
To see more fun ideas like what we have below follow RIKC on Pinterest @rikcpins

1.      Sensory Bags:  Sensory bags provide great sensory input for children that may need visual or tactile sensory reinforcers.  Sensory bags are awesome “fidget toys” and can also improve concentration and focus.

These fun filled bags can be filled with anything you want!  You can make Goblin Guts, Spooky Spiders, or anything you can imagine.  Our favorite Halloween sensory bag is Goblin Guts.  To create Goblin Guts you will need:
·         A zip-lock Bag
·         Cooked Pasta (We prefer spaghetti noodles)
·         Green food coloring
·        Plastic Eye Balls, Spiders and Snakes (whatever you think will make good goblin guts)
·         Clear hair gel
·         Super Glue

Instructions: Mix the pasta with a couple drops of green food coloring in a bowl.  Allow several minutes to dry.  However, don't wait too long.  You don't want the noodles to dry out.  Once dry mix the green pasta with all other ingredients in a zip-lock bag.  Then just secure the seal with superglue.

2.     Sand Trays: You don’t have to get very fancy with this one to enhance sensory learning skills.  Sand trays are perfect for practicing shapes, letters, numbers, or designs and are so easy to make! To get started on your own sand tray you will need:

·         Sand (can be found at craft stores or pet shops in the fish aisle)
·         Shallow flat container for sand (make sure the tray is big enough to draw in)
·         Cards with numbers, letters, shapes, designs or whatever you want to practice on them. (Parents you can even make your own sand tray for your child to mimic your drawing)

Instructions: Once you have your container just fill it with sand and start practicing!  We like for our trays to have a dark or colored bottom to them so that it is easier to see what we have written in the sand. 

3.       Calming Bottles: Sometimes emotions run high and we can all be a little cranky.  Calming bottles are great for helping children during these times.  Just shake up the jar and hand it to your child as they watch the glitter and water settle so will they.  Here’s what you will need:
·         A clear container. ( We tall water bottles)
·         Clear Elmer’s Glue. (Make sure the glue is clear traditional white glue will make the mixture milky).
·         HOT water (this helps the glue mix with the water)
·         Ultra fine glitter (can be found at any craft or hobby store)
·        Super glue for plastic (this will seal the jar once you are finished to prevent leaks or anyone unscrewing the lid)

Instructions:  Fill your container with HOT water.  Next you will begin to add the glue, we recommend about ¼ of the bottle of glue.  The more glue in the water the longer it will take the glitter to settle. Step three, add the glitter and mix (we used a plastic knife so that it could be thrown away after).  We like to have more glitter but you and your child might like less.  Just add the amount you think is best.  Now you can add the lid and seal it.  We use super glue for plastic bottles. 

** You can add more glue if you think your mixture needs it but remember the more glue you add the longer it will take for the glitter to settle.  By following our instructions it will take about five minutes for the glitter to settle completely. 

4.     Water Marbles: Water marbles are a great sensory tool and are just as fun to play with. You can purchase the marbles for about $2 in a variety of colors. When we play with water marbles we like to hide objects in them such as letters or coins to double as a learning experience. Water  marbles should be used under adult supervision to prevent swallowing.

5.       Treasure Playdough:  Is there anything more exciting than digging for treasure? This will keep the little ones busy for hours while focusing on fine motor skills.  And making the playdough is half of the fun! For a treasure chest of your own, here’s what you will need:

·         1 cup flour
·         ½ cup of salt
·         1 Tbsp Cream of Tartar
·         1Tbsp oil
·         1 cup water
·         Golden yellow food coloring
·         Approximately ¼ cup of gold glitter
·         A variety of gems, gold coins, colored beads, play jewelry, etc.  (Be creative with your “treasure”)
·         A small shovel
·         A small treasure chest  *optional*
Instructions:  Start by making your golden playdough “sand”.  Mix together the flour, salt and cream of tartar.  Next add the oil and water then stir until smooth.  Cook the mixture over medium to low heat until the dough looks dry but is still sticky.  Let the dough cool for 1 min then knead in the golden yellow food coloring and gold glitter.  Flatten out the playdough and place all of the “treasure” on top.  Fold the playdough over the gems and make sure they are well hidden and evenly distributed in the dough to make the dig even more exciting.  Place the “sand” in the chest and let the treasure search begin!
** This can also be done with dinosaurs to make a small archaeological dig site!  

6.       Pom-Pom Target Practice:  This one is pretty simple but will still keep the kiddos entertained for hours.  The difficulty level can be increased or decreased depending on the age of the child. 
Here’s what you will need:

Painters tape or masking tape
Large and small pom-poms (can be found at a craft or hobby store)

Instructions:  Tape a target on the floor.  For younger children you can only put only two rings on the target and use larger pom-poms.  For older children increase the difficulty by adding more rings to the target and use smaller pom-poms.  If you are a competitive family you can create your own scoring system to make play a little more interesting.

7.       Indoor Snowmen: Sometimes the desire to build a snowman is outweighed by the desire to not get frost bite.  The good news is that you can make a snowman without any snow at all and all from the kitchen counter!  To get started you will need:

·         2 boxes of cornstarch
·         A can of foaming shaving cream
·         A box or plastic container
·         A sheet, tarp, trash bag, newspaper or anything you can use to cover the table for any spills
·         Odds and ends you may have to help play in the “snow” Ex: buttons, yarn, beans, hard candy, dry pasta, ribbon, bottle caps etc.

Instructions:  Empty the boxes of cornstarch into the containers and add the shaving cream to the corn starch (we use the whole can).  Let your little one mix the snow together until it makes a crumbly powder that will stick together when formed into a ball.  If it isn’t sticking you may need more shaving cream.  You are now ready to make your snow art! Your snow should last a few weeks if you want to save it for another “snow day” just put a lid on your container for storage!

8.       Campground Living Room: Camping can be a lot  of fun but can also be hard to do for some families.  No worries!  Bring the campground to your living room.  Here we will show you how to set up your Campground Living Room.

·         Tent (If you already have the real thing great, if not a good old fashioned tent from bed sheets will be perfect). 
·         “Campfire”
·         Oven S’mores
·         Flashlights
·         Sleeping bags
·         Nature Crafts (perfect way to bring the outside inside for your special campout)
Setting up camp:  Decide where to set up the tent so that it is easily accessible for everyone and in a safe place.  Next it’s time to start the camp fire.  For logs we use old paper towel and toilet paper rolls or you can use brown construction paper formed into a tube shape.  For the center of your fire use red, yellow and orange construction paper cut into flame shapes. (For an extra touch we also like to put a battery operated candle in the center of the fire to give off a real glow while being safe!) Glue your logs and fire to a square piece of cardboard (pizza boxes work well). 

Don’t forget the s’mores!  Preheat your oven to 450 F and assemble the s’mores on a baking sheet (just bottom graham cracker and marshmallow for now) place the crackers about an inch apart from each other.  Let the s’mores bake for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and place the piece of chocolate on the marshmallow and top with graham cracker.  Let cool and enjoy!

Bring nature indoors!  You can create a nature loom or skip ahead to #10 on our list!  Nature looms are a classic camping activity.  Collect sticks for the frame of your loom, choose a size that best represents the size of loom you wish to make.  Lash the sticks together with yarn to create the base.  The base can be in any shape you would like! Pull the yarn tight in a criss cross motion to bind the sticks together at the base.  For the inside of the loom tie a piece of yarn at the corner of your base and begin wrapping it around the loom.  To decorate your loom use items from outside such as flowers, leaves, nuts, bark or pine cones. Just be creative! 

9.       “Stained Glass”: Creating your own “stained glass” masterpiece is great fun on rainy day, cold day or snowy day.  This can provide entertainment for hours or just as a quick activity depending on how big you want to make your piece.  Here’s what you will need:

Press and Seal Wrap
Masking Tape
Colored Tissue Paper

Instructions:  Cut the desired size of press and seal wrap for the “glass” and use the masking tape to tape to a wall or window (this just holds the wrap up so it’s easier to add the tissue paper). Next cut the tissue paper into different sizes and shapes.  Once you have cut your tissue paper press them onto the press and seal to create a colorful pattern! 

10.   Birdseed Wreath: We love every part about making a bird seed wreath, from the sensory feeling of the bird seed, to creating a food source for the birds we share a yard with.  Once the wreath is hung outside your children will be anxiously waiting to see the first bird stop by for lunch. To get started you will need:

4 cups of bird seed
¾ cup of all purpose flour
½ cup of water
3T corn syrup
1 package of plain gelatin
Cooking spray
Bundt pan or other mold with a hole in the center

Instructions: In a large bowl put ½ cup warm water and gelatin mix together and let the gelatin dissolve.  Whisk in the corn syrup and flour to create a paste.  Add in 4 cups of bird seed and stir well.  Spray the Bundt pan with cooking spray then scoop in the seed mixture as evenly as possible.  Compact the seed in the pan with a spoon or spatula. Leave the seed in the pan for 24 hours to harden and dry.  After 24 hours turn the wreath over onto a plate or paper towel and then allow continuing to dry for 24 – 48 hours.  Now you are ready to hang your wreath from a tree limb with your ribbon (Just make sure to tie the knot tight). 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Perfect Fall Pumpkin Patches

Fall is upon us, Kansas City.  The leaves have begun to change, sweaters have been unpacked, football season is here, and pumpkins are everywhere.  As a child, visiting the pumpkin patch in the fall is a highly anticipated event.  There is a lot of pressure for a pumpkin to make the cut.  It must be a brilliant hue of orange with a long stem and perfectly symmetrical.  After all, this would be the pumpkin that would adorn the front porch for all to see.  There is a certain magic in finding the “cream of the crop” when it comes to pumpkins.  Once your find is cleaned, cored, and carved it is ready to become the centerpiece of any fall display.  There is a sense of joy and accomplishment as the eyes and crooked smile of your creation glow at each passerby.  

Choosing the right pumpkin patch can be just as difficult for parents as choosing the right pumpkin for the child. "Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere" (Charlie Brown).  Sometimes for individuals with disabilities finding the "most sincere patch" takes a little bit more planning.  We have composed a list of our favorite Kansas City, accessible pumpkin patches this year. 

Johnson Farms:  This family owned farm has everything from fantastic food to hayrides.  The 60 acre pumpkin patch has paved paths, accessible restrooms and will assist each person on the hay ride to make sure everyone has a fun and safe experience. 

17701 S State Rte D
Belton, MO

Louisberg Cider Mill: Reviews rave “you don’t have to wait for the pumpkin patch or corn maze to make this a fun trip”.  Take a look around the accessible store and pick out cider, jelly, spices, or fruit butter.  The patch spans over 10 acres so you can pick your own from the vine.  The paths are very wide but are not paved so some individuals in wheelchairs may need a helping push.  The staff at Louisberg Cider Mill assured us that they host folks of all abilities every year.  Before you pick out your pumpkin don’t forget to stop by Teepee Villiage, Straw Fort and the petting zoo.  

14730 Hwy 68
Louisberg, KS 66053

Weston Red Barn Farm: In the spirit of preserving the American dream of farming visitors are offered the opportunity to experience a real working farmstead.  Soak In some old fashioned farm fun on the hayride, at a bonfire, or while picking pumpkins and apples.  If you call ahead the kind folks out at red barn farm will gladly meet you with a ramp for assistance in getting on and off of the hay ride.  The paths in the orchard and pumpkin patch are dirt but are well maintained and extra wide.

16300 Wilkerson Rd.
Weston, MO 64098

Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead: The Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead honors the legacy of Officer Deanna Rose to bring the charm of a farm to children living in the city.  This 12 acre Farmstead has nearly 200 animals and birds, vegetable and flower gardens, fishing and pony rides.  The farmstead has many brick and paved paths leading you to each activity.

13800 Switzer Rd
Overland Park, KS 66221

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Since the passing of Robin Williams, depression awareness has been on the rise.  Depression is something many of us have heard of and some have even experienced.   Depression, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, unimportant, and often is unable to live in a normal way.   According to a study conducted by Johnathan Silver, MD “20-60% of people with a serious injury experience depression soon after the injury or even years later”.

Depression can result from the chemical changes within the brain or as a symptom of post-traumatic stress.  This can be detrimental to the rehabilitation process following an injury.  Depression, if allowed, can diminish energy and confidence levels of individuals who are adjusting to their new life after a serious injury.  But don’t worry, there are ways to combat depression.  Helpful tips for battling depression are to set a daily schedule, stay involved in activities you participated in previously or engage in new activities to highlight new abilities.  A strong relationship with family and friends is important to mental and physical health as well.

Treatment is usually very successful when symptoms are caught early.  Common signs of depression after an injury are feelings of guilt or loss, loss of concentration, decreased energy, loss of appetite, loss of sleep, diminished desire to participate in social or recreational activities, and thoughts of suicide (Depression, 2014). 

Severe injury, illness, and disability can affect us in a variety of ways – emotionally, cognitively, and socially.  Friends and family members can be directly affected by their loved one’s depression.  Neuropsychology Services at RIKC serves individuals of all ages in helping with the adjustment to disability.  Counseling is available in an individual or group setting for patients and family members.  

Depression.  (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.brainline.org/landing_pages/categories/depression.html

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Letter to Mr. Don Harkins, C.E.O.

Dear Mr. Harkins,

I recently completed several weeks of the day program with Doil Dover who had a stroke in October of 2013.  I wanted to take the time to tell you about our experience at your facility.

First, I want to say I have been a nurse for 35 years both on the floor and administratively.  Doil is like a father to me.  I have known him and his family for more than 20 years.  So that being said, I want to express my and his family's appreciation for all that was done at the Rehab Institute.

And let me say, it was a lot.  I can't possibly remember all of the staff members names, but from the moment we arrived by Leonard at the front desk, we were taken care of.  From admissions to the Day Hospital and into the gym, things were handled professionally and completely.

Tanika and Keith work seamlessly in taking care of clients when everyone first arrives in the morning, and they do it in a calm, patient, and personal manner, always being respectful and providing dignity to each individual.  They are skilled and pro-active.

Each and every therapist inside the facility worked professionally with Doil, and yet they treated him as an individual, always giving positive feedback and facing the challenges with humor and a smile.  I was impressed by the type of equipment that was provided and the creative tasks they came up with to address each individual person's needs.  What they really do is transform lives, I can't imagine anything more important.  And it wasn't just Doil.  I watched as they cared for the youngest to oldest; every challenge you can imagine and always with positive, realistic attitudes.  They left room for hope which sometimes is all you have.

The facility provided wonderful support to the families. I felt listened to and valued as part of the treatment plan for Doil.  The environment was relaxed; which considering how stressful this can be for the client and families is so important.

Information on how Doil was doing was easy to obtain and complete.  Cheri was amazing at keeping all of the bases covered but always took time to lend an ear and give support when needed.

Everyone from the bottom floor of the building up, regardless of their job, was friendly and helpful.  Everything was always clean and the bathrooms are spacious for the clients.

I am a very detail oriented individual and my standards for care (my staff will tell you) seems unreachable, but I can tell you that everyone at the Institute deserves my heartfelt thanks for a job well done.  I couldn't find one thing that I thought could have been done better.  I would be proud to manage a facility such as this.  I have recommended your facility to everyone I know and I have also let all of the physicians involved in Doils care know that this is an excellent place to refer to.

Please extend my gratitude as well as the Dover's for all that you have done for someone who is close to my heart.  We won't forget your kindness and may God bless you in what you do.  Because it's amazing and so is your entire staff.

Thank You!


L.R. and the Dover Family

Monday, June 30, 2014

Trimming the Sails for Success

RIKC and Weatherby Yacht Club hosted a day of Adaptive Sailing for the Adolescents in the RIKC Summer Therapy and Day Program Groups.  The afternoon event started with pizza and introductions of boat captains and their new crew members.  The excitement began to rise over lunch and then we were finally able to hit the water.  Crews of 6-7 boarded their boats for the day and then they set sail across the lake.  The sailboats, that were volunteered by their owners for the day, were Cannonball, Raven, and Blue Ayes.  The Cannonball's captain and crew were Bill McGovern and Ray Stanton, Raven was captained by Hanns Hagen and Michelle Stevenson, and Blue Ayes was with Tony White and Paul Stevenson.  

Adaptive Sailing was a great opportunity for participants to learn how to sail while working towards their therapy goals.  Each boat was accompanied by experienced Sailors who not only showed us how to sail but were able to put first time participants at ease. Participants enjoyed a day of sun and fun while therapy focused on arm coordination, visual scanning, problem-solving, balance skills and mobility over different terrains.  

This was the fourth year (of many to come) partnering with Weatherby Yacht Club for this event.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Project Marley

The Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City was fortunate enough to receive a donation from givingSOLO this week for Project Marley.  givingSOLO is a local non profit organization with a mission to link children with brain tumors to optimal health care options through education, creation, and compassion.  The organization’s programs provide fun and creative opportunities for community involvement while aiding in the advancement of research and providing innovative ways of coping for children with brain tumors.  Supporting the development of young philanthropists, creative expression, and complementary and alternative medicine, givingSOLO is committed to providing children with the tools to cultivate a more creative and compassionate culture.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which includes but is not limited to art therapy, music therapy, and dance and movement therapy, has been shown to be a fundamental resource in facilitating healing, expression, and coping for children with brain tumors.  It is their goal to offer programs promoting the arts in the lives of all children while exploring entertaining, creative ways to fund pediatric brain tumor research and patient assistance programs.  givingSOLO is dedicated to providing education, awareness, and support to the community, and by working together we can foster a stronger sense of generosity and compassion in the hearts of our children.

Project Marley is in the honor of a beautiful little girl, Marley.  Marley had astrocytomas.  Astrocytomas comes from the star shaped cells in the brain that compose the supportive tissue.  Like many tumors the cause of Astrocytomas is unknown.  Marley lost her battle on October 11,2011.  Journal entries made on CaringBridge.com about Marley's journey remind followers that even in times of heartache hope is not gone.

 The donation from givingSOLO will go towards music, drama and art therapy during our summer programs.  Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 9th from 6:00PM - 8:00PM when givingSOLO and the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City bring you "For The Love of Art" and silent auction.

Welcome to The Victory Blog!

This is a place for sharing stories of personal growth, strength, small and large successes, and the most relevant topics regarding our services. We hope you will enjoy the journey with us as we continue to build brighter futures for people of all ages who have experienced a limiting condition such as brain injury, stroke, or developmental disability.