Adventure racing and pet ownership are good for you

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Adventure racing and pet ownership are good for you


16 October 2014

The positive effects of adventure racing for people who have chronic illness or disability and the health benefits of pet ownership for older Australians are among the topics to be presented by USC students at an upcoming major conference in Noosa.

Seven USC Occupational Therapy students and four academics will present their latest research on 24-25 October at the biennial OT Queensland State Conference, which is being held at the Sheraton Noosa during National Occupation Therapy Week (19-25 October).

Lecturer Dr Ann Kennedy-Behr said she was delighted that so many USC students would be showcasing their work at this forum.

“One Masters and six Honours students submitted abstracts of their research papers to the conference anonymously and were selected to present there,” she said.

“This is not in a student category but in an open category, and is a great testament to the quality of their research.”

Honours student, Joanne Eadie, 38, who taught outdoor recreation at Sunshine Coast TAFE before starting her degree at USC, will present her research into an unlikely group of athletes.

“My research aims to understand the influence adventure racing has on the health and wellbeing of people living with chronic illness or disability,” she said.

Adventure racing combines teamwork and navigation using a map and compass with two or more disciplines like trekking, mountain biking, kayaking or rock climbing and is staged in the bush, often in spectacular locations.

“I would like adventure activities to be better understood as a rehabilitation and recovery tool,” she said. “The themes that emerged from my research were being part of a team, being in the bush, the challenge, the health and wellbeing and fun.

“I found that the participants did not focus on their limitations but rather on their abilities, participation and enjoyment.”

Another USC Honours student, Jordana Parkes-Moller will present her research into the importance of pet ownership to senior citizens. Jordana, 21, based her research on clients of Pets for Life, a volunteer organisation which helps seniors take care of their pets.

“Older people are often more socially isolated than other members of the community, so I think it is important to better understand how pets can impact this,” she said.

“We found that pets have a positive impact on their owners, including health-related benefits such as decreasing loneliness.”

Joanne’s research is supervised by Dr Kieran Broome, while Jordana’s research is supervised by Anita Hamilton, both Lecturers in Occupational Therapy at USC.

— Jane Cameron

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