Saturday, December 04, 2021

Helping people with delays, disabilities lead normal lives

Photo from Ricah Mae F. Cañedo

CHANCES are many of us do not know certain jobs that have equal importance as the ones we dreamed of or looked up to.

But for Ricah Mae F. Cañedo, being a licensed occupational therapist has helped a lot of her patients live and function independently giving their families' hope of achieving a sense of "normalcy" in their lives.

Ricah Mae once aspired to become a doctor that's why she planned to continue studying Medicine after graduating with her BS in Occupational Therapy at the Davao Doctors College where she was awarded as the Most Outstanding Occupational Therapy Graduate in 2016.

However, as the eldest daughter, her parents Mr. and Mrs. Rey and Ruth Cañedo encouraged her to help in the family business as her siblings were still studying at that time and they are getting older.

"I contemplated and realized that more people are at stake if I continue my dream. God led me to a vision that our business will become big and will be used by Him in bringing more livelihood to families, and in reaching out to more generations in the future. So I took a leap and detour as I hold on to God’s promise," Ricah Mae recalled.

So, instead of pursuing her dream course, Medicine, she took up a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the Ateneo de Davao University to equip herself in running a business, since she came from the Medical field and had zero knowledge about business.

"It was one of the most difficult yet fulfilling seasons of my life as I had to juggle handling a small business as I previously owned a small Restobar in the city - Barquada, working as an Administrative Head in our family business, working as an Occupational Therapist in my own clinic to continue my passion and profession, and studying as an MBA student," she said of her experience.

Ricah Mae also narrated that during this stage of her life, she missed out on most of her family’s, friends’, and relatives’ events which were very unlikely of her.

"But sacrifices had to be made," she said.

Unfortunately, her small restobar only operated for a year and after this failure, she decided to expand her clinic's, the Apex Therapy Center, operations in Davao City to reach out to more children and families.

The Apex Therapy Center in Davao City is situated at Door 3, 2nd floor, 18 Acacia Building corner Calachuchi Acacia Street in Juna Subdivision. It is conveniently located in front of the Ateneo Matina Campus Steel Parking Bldg.

"And by God’s grace, Apex Therapy Center continues to thrive despite the pandemic," she proudly says.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, "Occupational Therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations).

Thus, occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent — or live better with — injury, illness, or disability.”

Being an occupational therapist encompasses a wide array of services that caters to all age groups.

"The main goal of occupational therapists is to help individuals with delays and disabilities reach their optimum potential, and be able to function independently in their daily activities," Ricah Mae says of her profession.

She says that the most fulfilling part of her job is empowering their patients or clients and their families to see beyond the dysfunctions, disabilities, and delays.

"We become their lifetime partners as we journey with them in the most challenging time of their lives," she said.

Ricah Mae explained that the most difficult phase in every family they encounter is acceptance. The level of progress in every patient is significantly correlated with the family’s level of acceptance.

"I feel successful when my client and their family can overcome this phase. This provides a significant step in the client’s progress, and oftentimes, the least prioritized and ignored goal in the client’s journey. It is my joy to have witnessed and become part of a milestone/s in my client’s life. I feel successful when I help families be more united in reaching short-term and long-term goals together," she said.

Meanwhile, Ricah Mae said with the number of cases of children and adolescents with special needs, it is her goal to increase awareness and to help build a more inclusive world.

"We, the occupational therapists, will strive more to educate ourselves and come up with more evidence-based practices that will be beneficial for you and your family’s development. We will continue in advocating a more inclusive world; a brighter and better place where everyone can enjoy equal rights and responsibilities," Ricah Mae said.

"I aim for more government leaders to provide more assistance and programs for the individuals with disabilities and their families. I aim that people will be more educated with our profession, and how it could bring significant impact to the world now," she said, adding that "this profession has taught me to be more appreciative of the little things in life."


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