World's top occupational scientists discuss Chilean miners this weekend at Western

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By Communications Staff
Friday, October 15, 2010
Just days after 33 Chilean miners escaped their 70-day underground entrapment, some of the world's top occupational scientists are crediting regular routines and a sense of teamwork and community as reasons the men were able to survive the ordeal, both physically and mentally.

Occupational scientists, representing 10 countries, are attending an international conference this week at The University of Western Ontario and much of the discussion has related to the importance and contribution of what the Chilean miners did that resulted in maintaining their health and well-being while trapped more than 600 metres below surface

“People the world over have learned several important lessons from the miners that reflect the knowledge and research studied by occupational scientists every day,” says Western’s Lynn Shaw, an associate professor at the School of Occupational Therapy in the Faculty of Health Sciences and the co-chair of the conference.

Findings and developments the occupational scientists are discussing this weekend include:
 
• The miners had things to do that were meaningful, that they were good at, and that gave them a sense of purpose while living in a confined space
• Each miner had a job within their abilities that maintained their pride and a way of contributing to their collective goal
• A sense of control was gained by establishing routines and structure to their day through continued participation in important activities
• All the occupations they did were tied to and collectively contributed to the goal of being freed
• Engaging in an occupation was an organizing element of their life
• Belonging and connecting to each other and to their families through activities that gave them hope and purpose
• Doing things together created a sense of belonging and being part of a team

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