By Kate Hunger
The department of occupational therapy continues to celebrate accomplishments of its faculty and students against the backdrop of the profession's centennial.
Students contribute to the profession
Several master's of occupational therapy students presented research posters at the Texas Occupational Therapy Association meeting in November. Two of the presenters, Brooke Valis and Amanda Sellers, presented "Community service Learning Experience with Underserved Children." The poster related their experiences as scholars through Project Reaching More, a five-year grant awarded to the Department of Occupational Therapy by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Service. One major goal of the grant is the recruitment, retention, and graduation of MOT scholars to serve infants, toddlers, children with disabilities and their families.
Observing the joy of children when they gain mobility has made a lasting impression on Valis, who recalled the reaction of the one little boy who the group was able to fit with the wheelchair during a mission trip to Del Rio last spring.
"As soon as we put him in a chair, he started rolling around the room and he was gone, happy and giggling," she recalled.
Families seeking adaptive mobility assistant for their children obtained day passes to cross the Texas-Mexico border.
"These underserved children in Mexico had to wait for our yearly visit to become mobile," Vails said, adding that serving the underserved "the reason I'm becoming an OT."
Sellers, who also volunteered at a camp for children with special needs, said the students' volunteer experiences bridged the gap between classroom learning and the real-life experiences of patients and families.
UT Health San Antonio ALSA Clinic wins award
The UT Health San Antonio ALSA clinic won the 2017 Interdisciplinary Team Award at the TOTA conference. The clinic, led by principal investigator Autumn Clegg, Ph.D., OTR, CBIS, occupational therapy clinical assistant professor and academic fieldwork coordinator, aims to improve access to care for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) patients in the Rio Grande Valley. Co-investigative partners include the UT Health San Antonio Long School of Medicine, Department of Neurology and the ALS Association Texas Chapter.
With support from a Community Engagement Grant from the Institute for Integration Medicine and Science, the team provided free interdisciplinary continuing education on ALS and best practices to Rio Grande Valley healthcare professionals. The team's work led to the development of a multidisciplinary ALS clinic at a hospital in the Rio Grande Valley, with the first clinic held in October, according to the letter nominating the team for the award.