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Work. 2013;45(1):25-30. doi: 10.3233/WOR-131600.

The meaning and value of traditional occupational practice: a Karen woman's story of weaving in the United States.

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  • 1Division of Occupational Therapy, The College of Health, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA.


This case study sought to understand the meaning of restoring traditional weaving as an occupation among Karen women from Burma who now live in an urban city in the United States and to examine the impact of weaving on their daily lives in terms of identity, empowerment, social support, and opportunities for entrepreneurship. The story of one Karen woman, Paw Law Eh, is described. Her story exemplifies the negative consequences of restricted access to familiar and meaningful daily activities, or "occupations", the relationship between occupation and self-identity, how participation in valued occupations can enhance social networks, and the restorative effects that are possible when engagement in meaningful occupations are maintained or restored. Her story demonstrates that occupational therapists have the skills and opportunity to contribute significantly to the well-being of Karen women by supporting the restoration of the occupation of weaving.

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