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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
OxPARC

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Tips for the classroom

Hands and arms

The following may be recommended by the Occupational Therapist:

  • Built-up pencil grips / pens to reduce strain on hand joints.
  • A short period of rest from writing (with stretching) every 10-20 minutes as required.
  • Computer / laptop access or handouts to reduce the amount of writing required.
  • Very occasionally splints to support the wrist.
  • Extra time during exams to allow for periods of rest from writing.
  • A locker near to the classroom or two sets of handbooks (one at home and one in the appropriate classroom) to reduce the need to carry books.
  • A backpack carried over both shoulders.

Please bear in mind that a weak grip could also affect the ability to do buttons/zips, turn taps and handles, etc.

Neck

  • Position the pupil to face the teacher because - avoids neck strain from repeated turning of the head.
  • Use an angled work surface. Provision of a writing slope is strongly recommended to prevent excessive neck flexion.

Mobility (lower limb function)

Painful hips, knees and ankles result in slow walking as do stiffness from prolonged standing or sitting. It may be appropriate to allow for:

  • Leaving a lesson early to get to the next on time and avoid the rush, especially on stairs.
  • Being late for the next lesson if classrooms are far apart.
  • A chair during assembly since it may be too uncomfortable to sit on the floo.r
  • Transport to school.
  • Allowing the pupil to stand and stretch his / her legs during lessons and exams to help reduce stiffness and pain.

Sitting Posture

  • It is always important to encourage an upright sitting posture and even more so for children and young people with arthritis. The ideal sitting posture allows for the hips, knees and ankles to be at 90 degrees with the feet flat on the floor.
  • In order to optimise writing and working at a desk, the table height needs to be just above the height of the elbow when seated. Sitting upright with the back supported against the backrest of the chair and feet flat on the floor is important during writing and computer tasks.