Crisis Turned Into Case Study, Over Christmas

by Helene Louise  

This past holiday season, in and around the usual activities like trimming the tree, cooking for my family and wrapping presents, I did something I’d never done before — I spent a considerable amount of time developing a case study to be used as a learning activity in a university classroom.

Further to my presentation at McGill University’s School of Physical and Occupational Therapy last year, I was asked if I could help develop a case study or “Professional Reasoning Seminar” that could be integrated as a learning activity along with my presentation. I thought it was such a wonderful idea to develop a scenario whereby students would read a clinical write up of a case involving a young girl recently diagnosed with a pediatric stroke, then read the parent’s perspective of the situation as I’ve described it in my book, and then, hear me talk about the themes in my book in a way that I think is most relevant and empowering to young people who will soon be joining the workforce.

In terms of the writing process in this case, initially I found it terribly difficult to look back through my old files to revisit the specific challenges we faced when my daughter was first diagnosed and write about it in a very clinical way, without the themes of hope and perseverance that I’ve derived from our experience since then.

But, as the hours went by and I saw the case study taking shape on my computer screen, knowing what I know now, how much hope and potential there was even when I couldn’t see it, my discomfort slowly turned into a quiet sense of triumph — that fifteen years later we have come so far and I’ve somehow found the strength to turn what was such a difficult period in my life into something that has the potential to make things better for other families in the future.

This week, I had the privilege of speaking to a new group of students and afterwards, the opportunity to watch and answer questions as they worked in groups to develop strategies and solutions for the young patient in question. To some, it may seem strange that I would spend part of my Christmas holiday working on turning what was a personal period of crisis so many years ago into a case study. But, having the opportunity to start the new year seeing my efforts used so constructively was a gift indeed...!

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