Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Fluid Dynamics

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Fluid Dynamics

Article excerpt

Poop and pee are hardly strangers to Direct Support Professionals. The DSPs have to return the situation to its pre-event status and do it with dignity, respect, grace and reverence to the individual.

It's been a hot summer in the South, and virtually every part of the country has seen extraordinary higher than average temperatures. At my community agency, The Orange Grove Center, we are particularly mindful of the needed precautions that must be implemented to protect individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities from the consequences of heat related fluid loss.

The reality is we all must be vigilant about excessive sweating, sunburn, maintaining hydration and insuring we have an adequate and balanced replenishment of electrolytes.

Simply put, our body fluids keep us alive. Let them get out of whack and we begin a potentially nasty roller coaster ride with a cascade of organs failing as they try to play catch up with fruitless compensating efforts. We are a system of fluids in motion; if those fluids are diverted to a new path they might become catastrophic.

Physicians have a need to understand fluid dynamics like race car drivers need to understand steering geometry. Fluid dynamics is the natural science of fluids in motion. Like most sub-disciplines in physics, fluid dynamics has a wide range of applications. Writing in The Dawn of Fluid Dynamics, Michael Eckert describes those diverse applications to include "calculating forces and moments on aircraft, determining the mass flow rate of petroleum through pipelines, predicting weather patterns, understanding nebulae in interstellar space and modeling fission weapon detonation." Fluid dynamics are even used in calculating traffic patterns and crowd dynamics.

On another level, to another group, fluid dynamics refer to a task, a chore, a necessary assignment that is among the most unappealing, distasteful and disgusting practices ... the cleaning up of human fluids.

While you can poetically describe the orchestration and choreography of the human body, how it strives for balance, efficiency and preservation, it's no more than an ongoing exercise in waste management.

While the human body does a Herculean job of ecology, open loop recycling and "just in time" manufacturing, like all systems, there is waste. Sometimes we control the waste and, more often in compromised systems, we are simply bystanders and observers.

But for the thousands of direct support professionals who provide front line supervision, support and guidance to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, they do more than simply observe the "fallout." They move to action. Their goal replicates the "tag line" of one of the country's best known commercial post-disaster recovery companies: "Like it never even happened." Removing the debris, damage, soot, dirt and filth from a living room, office or store is relatively easy; it can be done with indifference, industrial equipment and a group of uniformed team members who can stop for a break, lunch or a smoke. The Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) have to return the situation to its pre-event status and do it with dignity, respect, grace and reverence to the individual. …

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