About the Author: Shay Howe is a designer and front-end developer currently working as the Director of Product at Belly in Chicago, IL. He takes his passion for solving problems and turns it into building creative and intuitive products. Shay’s WebVisions NYC talk “Less Is More: How Constraints Cultivate Growth” will show us how to be more productive and focused.
Growing up in northwest Ohio we had some rough winters. One winter specifically it rained every day and froze every night. Over time the weight of the frozen rain was too much, causing quite a few trees to fall under the pressure.
When the rain subsided my father went out to help clean up some of fallen trees. As he was cutting one tree, a piece of wood flew off the blade of his chainsaw and scratched his retina. My mother took him to the emergency room and the doctors were able to successfully remove the piece of wood and get him back on his feet.
What was interesting, though, was my father’s recovery process. Rather than protecting his bad eye with an eye patch doctors made my father wear an eye patch on his good eye. By constraining his good eye, my father’s bad eye had to work twice as hard, and his good eye was never given the opportunity to overcompensate for his bad eye. With constraint-induced therapy my father wasn’t left with a good or bad eye, he simply has two good eyes of equal strength.
Fast forward a few months, I broke the longest bone in the arm, my humerus. It was a fairly gruesome injury that laid me up all summer. When my cast came off, doctors quickly placed me in the same constraint-induced therapy my father went through. Doctors constrained my good arm by placing it in a sling. When they caught me cheating, and using my good arm, they would wrap it to my chest to make sure it was useless.
Despite my father and I having a different injuries, the rehabilitation was the same constraint-driven approach, and we both overcame our injuries stronger than before. The concept of constraint induced therapy has always stuck with me, and I recently revisited it with a friend when starting a new project.