Malaysian Occupational Therapists National Conference 2017

Hello! I feel that this is a much desired write up of the national Malaysian Occupational Therapists National Conference of 2017, dedicated to all the beloved students who couldn’t make it.

I also wanted to note, this is the most number of pictures I ever had to manually edit. so, *achievement unlocked*

Brochure of Malaysian Occupational Therapy Conference, with the theme “Knowledge to Skill”

Upon registration you get the schedule, booklet and a fancy bag of the notes of Prof Matthew Yau, one of the key note speakers.


The whole talk consisted of four plenaries, and you get to choose between three different concurrent sessions that would take place for as long as three days on the topic of (outcome measure, interventions, and sharing experience)

  1. Sexual Rehabilitation
  2. Pain Management
  3. Supported Employment Program

Well! I was honestly very interested in Pain Management, because pain is the number one concern of many patients, however! being the fact that Sexual Rehabilitation was the “up and coming” area of occupational therapy, as well as the fact that the speaker was Prof Matthew Yau who was a specialized sex therapist with foundation in occupational therapy, who graduated from the United States of America, practiced and taught in Australia as well as Hong Kong. I choose based purely based on the opportunity of listening to a speaker with such amazing and diverse experiences.



But I’ll get into the topics later, here are some of the other interesting things and highlights of the conference.

Live opening violin performance, he was really good!

As well as many exhibitions, show-casing many interesting OT related inventions. That’s the best part of being part of an OT conference, in which the exhibitions are catered to your needs and line of work.

A form of finger splint using malleable aluminium
An arm splint

Yeong Shyuan (my friend) loves trying out these splints because she thinks it looks like a ninja costume (hence the pose above).

I kinda freaked out internally trying out all these splints, because they are actually alot more comfortable than than the thermoplastic splints that we are trained to make, and they are actually alot cheaper in comparison. All I thought was “these people are going to run me out of my job”

You actually  can observe the competitiveness of companies and the variety of their splints (and prices!)

Take a look at this interesting work of art! Its a “flexible” splint, in which you can have multiple splints in one! It comprises of multiple components, and according to how to manipulate the components, you can turn the splint into a Extension Splint, Hyper Extension Splint, Ulnar Deviation Splint, Radial Deviation Splint and others.

For stroke patients, preventing flexion contractures, as well as aiding in better gasping movement and flexibility

This is another interesting contraption, in which these rubber bands allow you to have extension of your fingers (as often, after lesions, your fingers would be in a flexed position). What makes this “splint” so special is that its flexible, where the patients are allowed to bend their fingers, practicing grasping movements.

Robotic arm to allow continuous passive motion of the fingers
Thermoplastic splints with colorful patterns to appeal to the interest of children
Special car to help the posture of children with postural disabilities or motor delays
They classified themselves as the “original” velcro brand. Don’t let looks deceive you, it is so comfortable, and so soft, I think I can rub it on my face without it scratching me
Compression socks! They actually made this with the intention of helping health professions that have to stand for long periods of time

And I saved the best for last!

This is a pinch gauge, where its supposed to measure your pinch strength

The first question we asked was, where’s the meter?

This brand of products have digitized our pinch tests and grip strength to allow all data to be instantly recorded into a computer. But besides that! it also allows you to play games with the assessment tools

The movement of the ball is dependent on how hard you can pinch the pinch gauge. So all forms of manipulation of the game is dependent on how well you manipulate the tool

It’s truly occupational, as they in cooperated games into assessment tools! That made it really fun.

It was really fun and interesting to look through the wide variety of options of these aids for clients, as well as try them out.

Besides the exhibitions, there are also the poster exhibitions


Not to forget the verbal presentations of papers!

1150560-01I generally really enjoyed listening to the paper presentations, because I am also in the midst of preparing my own paper to be verbally presented in the ASEAN Healthy Ageing Conference. So it was really great being able to expose myself to the types of papers presented, manner of presenting, and questions that people may ask.

I also have never been treated so well as a vegetarian before. You see normal people go through the long line of buffet. For vegetarians, we sit down, and they serve us our food in a little bento box. And the food was amazing!

In addition to the plenary talks, and workshops, there was also a workshop on photography.


You see everyone starring at me, yes that’s me trying to take a photo after being instructed to. It’s one of those, can we get a volunteer from the audience please? And I just had to. Some interesting things I learned that in a photo class: you need to make things three dimensional, be daring to try different and extreme angles, orchestrate your photography, you need not only your subject in the picture, but the context of the picture. For example, if you take a picture of a man with a microphone, what is he doing? Is he an MC, is he a speaker? What talk is it?

Putting those tips in mind, I tried a different approach to my photography after that,


Not a bad improvement, if I do say so myself. 😉

Also, we had a photography session to follow up from it.

Now let’s get into the topics shall we!

We had four main plenary lectures:

  1. Sexual Rehabilitation
  2. Pain Management
  3. Supported Employment Program
  4. Clinical Hypnosis

Sexual Rehabilitation

The main message was that sexual satisfaction was a right, for anyone regardless whether they were disabled or etc. In addition, there was also a controversial topic, in which there are countries in which, where disabled individuals obtain sex or lose their virginity in brothels because they are unable to get sexual satisfaction from anywhere else. To be fair, it is a lot harder for them to find a partner, if not due to discrimination by potential partners, but also discrimination by parents of potential partners. Not to say you need to apply this in your practice! (especially since it’s still illegal in Malaysia). But the point being in that despite disability, humans still experience sexual desire, and just because you’re disabled does not mean you are unable to fulfill those needs. Secondly, the most important message was that sex was not just penetration. Your skin is the biggest sex organ. There are so many different ways of expressing sexual desires, such as hugs, kisses, and touches.


I think what I loved about the concurrent sessions was that Prof Matthew conducted it in a workshop manner, he didn’t even use the stage because he wanted to be closer to us. You can ask as many questions at almost any time you desired. He made the topic so interesting, and he was beyond helpful in answering any questions or inquiry that you may have.

Intervention wise, there was a large focus on basically sensate focusing. Other than that, its counselling and education that you are still able to have a sex life after your accident or injuries. Many people ask “how do you even start this type of conversation with your clients?”, the main answer is that you don’t just say “Hey! How’s your sex life?”, the more politically correct answer is that you say “How is the relationship between you are your partner after your accident? Is there anything you wish that was different?”, and you can eventually ask about his/her sex activities. If the individual does not want to talk about it, it’s okay. Then your next step would be to educate the patient “If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine. However I would just like you to know that if you wanted to talk about it, or you are facing difficulties, we can help you. Help is readily available if and when you need it.” You need to allow your patient that education that help is available. You do not need to require for your patients to tell you about it. Which brings me to my next point, if your client is perfectly happy not having any sex at all, it’s also alright. If he/she lives life having zero sex in the year, and is perfectly happy, there is no need to intervene as if oh you need this to be happy. You need not ensure that your patient hits a certain requirement of sexual pleasure to be happy. The point of intervention is that it is still highly client centered. You do what your patient wants, at his/her own satisfaction level.  In addition, you also need to look at the needs of the patient’s partner. For example, if the client is happy, however the partner is not, it is probably better to talk about it. For example, “I just would like to bring to your attention that your partner feels this way.” Again, if your client chooses to not deal with the situation, it is still their decision.

Pain Management 

This is mainly focusing on OTs and hospitals dealing with acute pain management. I think my main take-away was the acronym: PAIN. P for position, “where is the pain occurring?”; A for aggression, ” is there anything that you do that cause the pain to get worse?”; I for intensity, “what type of pain is it? throbbing, stabbing, prickling? what is the pain score like at rest and at movement?”, N for neutralization, “is there anything that you do that makes it better?”. In addition, I learned that now pain is categorized as the fifth vital sign, after body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure.

Supported Employment Program

 The idea of the talk was mainly to push patients from rehabilitation into a form of occupation, to a form of work. In a certain hospital, they take pride in return the patient to work within a week. There are multiple benefits to this, such as you allow the individual to be part of competitive employment, they then would like to push themselves to be better. Furthermore, it has be evidently proven that employment programs improves their condition, emotional satisfaction, as well as cognitive levels.  I was pleasantly surprised knowing, that they provide the individuals with the mediums of starting their own catering business, in which all comprises of clients that is supported by the hospital. So for example, if there was a talk or event held in the hospital, the “patients” would prepare the food. There have been many articles and journal published that supposedly won a competition regarding this program of supportive employment, I haven’t read them yet, but here are some that I found: Employment program for patients with severe mental illness in Malaysia: a 3-month outcome; Functional remission and employment among patients with schizophrenia in Malaysia. My favorite thing said was,

You don’t wait for a patient to get better to start occupation, but use occupation to help the patient get better.

Put that on a T-shirt yo.

Clinical Hypnosis 

It was a very basic introductory class. Debunk-tifying the myths of hyponosis, such as it isn’t used for evil, and you don’t use it to make your patients do whatever you want. In addition, it isn’t magic, so it doesn’t mean that you try it once you immediately get it right. There are times, you need to say the same thing to the patients for 4-5 sessions to get it into their subconscious. This is one of the best explanations for hypnosis, you know the feeling you get when you just wake up, that drowsy feeling, and you hear things. So this is a common example, say your mom tried to wake you up 5 times in the morning, but you don’t remember them at all, at that moment you heard her constant nagging, but you just drift back off to sleep. Hypnosis is like that, you are in between consciousness and unconsciousness, and you don’t exactly remember everything that went on, however your subconscious does. If you make your patient fall asleep, then that means it went too far. Also, hypnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you need to see a pendulum like you see in movies, Prof Matthew stated you can even use your fingers. Hypnosis is a mixture, of the script you say, how you say it and the tone of your voice. Best part!!! He gave us a taste of self-hypnotherapy for relaxation. This is to help us to get patients to relax, pain management, and help with their insomnia. I now like to say, I was hypnotized before! (and it was cool! 🙂 )

That’s all! It was such a great opportunity to learn and PR in the conference. I will say take opportunity to shine in front of others, because the people in the room would be your future employers and employees one day. I had the opportunity to involve myself in conversations with the president of Malaysian Occupational Therapy Association, as well as discuss my potential thesis project with experienced occupational therapists. Also, I had the wonderful privilege of having lunch with this amazing individual, Prof Matthew Yau (we have the same surname!) Thank you for taking the time to answer my many many many questions regarding your line of work, and being so encouraging of my journey as an OT.


I learned so so so much, and am so grateful for the sharing the speakers took to explain things. Thank you again to Malaysian Occupational Therapy Association for planning this wonderful conference (as well as providing the students with a student discount! hehe!) It was a great experience.


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