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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Beattie

Chronic Fatigue got your "to do" list running long? Try this!



The Four "P"s of Energy Conservation: An Occupational Therapist's Perspective


Energy conservation is a crucial aspect of daily life, particularly for individuals living with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, disabilities, or those who simply want to optimize their energy levels. One would often think of energy conservation as something we do in our homes to conserve electricity. As human beings, the principle is more or less the same as our bodies are constantly in fluctuating energy consumption states over different periods of time. From running a marathon to sleeping, we use energy in our bodies to power our functions. As an occupational therapist working within communities, I love to use energy conservation strategies to better individuals' lives. In this blog post, we will dive into the four "P"s of energy conservation from a community occupational therapist's perspective, shedding light on practical techniques that can improve the quality of life for those facing daily energy challenges.




Planning

The first "P" in energy conservation is planning. Effective planning is key to minimizing unnecessary energy expenditure and ensuring that essential tasks are completed with minimal fatigue. As occupational therapists, we work closely with individuals to develop personalized energy-saving strategies.

 

Prioritize Tasks: Identify and prioritize the most important tasks. Encourage a focus on essential activities while considering their energy levels.

 

Break Tasks Down: Break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps. This allows for short, focused bursts of energy expenditure, reducing overall fatigue.

 

Use Assistive Tools: Recommend assistive devices or tools that can make tasks easier. This might include adaptive equipment for cooking, cleaning, or mobility aids for walking.




Pacing

Positioning is the third "P" in energy conservation, and it refers to optimizing body mechanics and ergonomics to reduce energy use.

 

Ergonomic Assessments: Occupational Therapists sometimes conduct ergonomic assessments to ensure that individuals are using proper body mechanics while performing tasks. This can significantly reduce the physical effort required. For example, how we sit at our desk, stand at a table, and lift a box all have a way best suited for ergononimcs.

 

Adaptive Seating: Recommend adaptive seating and support devices that promote proper posture and alignment, reducing muscle strain and fatigue.

 

Optimize Workspaces: Suggest workspace modifications to make tasks more accessible and energy efficient. This might include adjusting the height of countertops or installing grab bars in the bathroom.


Positioning

Positioning is the third "P" in energy conservation, and it refers to optimizing body mechanics and ergonomics to reduce energy use.

 

Ergonomic Assessments: Occupational Therapists conduct ergonomic assessments to ensure that individuals are using proper body mechanics while performing tasks. This can significantly reduce the physical effort required. For example, how we sit at our desk, drive a car, stand at a table, and lift a box all have a way best suited for ergonomics.

 

Adaptive Seating: Recommend adaptive seating and support devices that promote proper posture and alignment, reducing muscle strain and fatigue.

 

Optimize Environments: Suggest workspace modifications to make tasks more accessible and energy efficient. Alter the arrangement of items in the kitchen so frequently used items are easy to access, such as storing enough crockery for one day in a waist height drawer. Recommend equipment such as installing grab bars or a shower chair in the bathroom.

 



Prioritization

The fourth "P" in energy conservation is prioritization, which involves making informed choices about how and where to allocate energy.

 

Select Energy-Efficient Activities: Help individuals choose activities that align with their goals and values. Encourage them to focus on activities that bring joy and fulfillment.

 

Delegate Tasks: Assist clients in identifying tasks that can be delegated to family members, friends, or hired help. This can free up energy for more meaningful activities.

 

Adapt and Simplify: Teach individuals how to adapt and simplify their routines. This may involve finding shortcuts or using alternative methods to achieve the same outcomes with less energy expenditure.



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