University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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Student Blog


OT Thanksgiving Potluck →

Nov 23, 2015, by Jodie · email · 1 comment

This year our OTSC Social Chairs, Jen and Benz, coordinated the first annual OT Thanksgiving Potluck at school. Both faculty and students brought entrées, sides and desserts to enjoy with each other. As the holiday season is soon approaching, it is important for all of us to give thanks to each other and this potluck was a wonderful opportunity to do so. Here are some pictures from the event!

Jen Chen, our OTSC second year social Chair
Our OTSC second year social chair, Jen, happy to see everyone enjoying the event!

Doesn’t the food look delicious?

More food!

Thank you again to our amazing social chairs for putting on such an enjoyable (and filling) event!  smile


Wheelchair Mobility Creating Real Accessibility →

Nov 22, 2015, by Rashelle · email · Leave a comment

Rashelle in a Wheelchair

As an occupational therapist, we may have the opportunity to order wheelchairs for people after completing a thorough evaluation of them. When deciding what type of wheelchair to order, we analyze a person’s engagement in activities, current abilities, and desires for mobility. We also provide education to clients on how to best utilize their wheelchair in order to maximize their participation in daily activities (i.e. home and community mobility). Last week, we were fortunate enough to receive a lesson from an expert wheel chair maneuverer.

He taught us how to pop epic “wheelies” to get over road bumps, how to conserve energy while going up ramps, and how to courageously (yet safely!) back up over curbs.

Going Down a Curb Backward

These lessons not only taught me basic techniques, but also the immensity of strength needed, both physically and mentally, to successfully overcome barriers of accessibility. It was inspiring to say the least, to hear about our guest speaker’s involvement in a nationally competitive wheelchair rugby team, living perfectly on his own, and even driving himself away in his inconspicuous, yet highly adapted car. The indiviudals that are able to master wheelchair mobility, in order to live independently and happily, are the true superstars of society!


Sorry to say good bye →

Nov 18, 2015, by Heather · email · Leave a comment

Yesterday was my last day of fieldwork for the semester. My fieldwork placement was at a private pediatric clinic in Simi Valley called Kids Connection. It was truly an amazing experience, and showed me what effective evidence-based treatments can look like in pediatric occupational therapy.

peds 1

While at Kids Connection, I had the opportunity to work with children with a range of diagnoses between the ages of 6 months to 21 years. At first I was worried that my lack of experience in pediatrics would hinder my ability to work with our clients. I could not have been more mistaken. I quickly learned from my clinical instructor the ins and outs of what makes an effective pediatric occupational therapist.

peds 3

Play was an integral part of each treatment plan with the child, which was also very therapeutic for me. It was a great feeling to leave fieldwork each day feeling more uplifted than when I had arrived.


Adaptation Elation: Equipment Creation! →

Nov 11, 2015, by Ariel · email · Leave a comment

As an occupational therapist to-be, I’m always keeping my eyes peeled for cool products that will help my future patients live their lives to the fullest.

Today in class, we had the opportunity to not only learn about adaptive equipment, but also try our hands at designing our very own product! As part of our lesson, we were given an “adaptive equipment challenge,” a la Iron Chef, where we were told to use the materials given to us (cardboard, duct tape, foam pipes…creativity…) to create a piece of adaptive equipment. My team made a prototype for an adaptive chair, called the ‘Astro Chair Unlimited.’ We designed it specifically to help support children who have difficulty sitting upright when otherwise unsupported. Our product includes a fully padded seat cushion to relieve pressure and keep kids comfortable, a fun customizable (space-themed!) design, and supports on each side intended to help the child stay seated in an upright position while at a tabletop. 3-2-1…ENGAGE in meaningful activities!!!

Here’s a picture of our final creation:

Adaptive Chair

Another group in my class chose to make an adaptive Catch Game. Here’s a photo of what they came up with:

Catch Game

After prototyping our adaptive chair, I was interested in what else was out there for people with disabilities. Given what I found through my research, it seems like the possibilities are truly endless! Here are just a few of the ideas that struck my fancy:

A “Star Wars” snowspeeder atop a child’s wheelchair, complete with flapping wings and working guns that shoot glowing Nerf darts:

Starwars Snow Speed Racer

Shoes for children or adults with splints or AFO’s:

Adaptive Shoes

An adapted croquet mallet:

Adaptive Croquet Mallet

Braille Twister Game!:

Braille Twister Game

Painting with Hats:

Painting with Hats

These ideas, and the plethora of others out there, are such great sources of inspiration. As Maria Montessori put it, “Watching a child makes it obvious that the development of his mind comes through his movements.” We as occupational therapists have the pleasure of helping people in all walks of life—no matter what their abilities—become truly UNSTOPPABLE!

Unstoppable T-Rex


Learning How To Dress in OT School! →

Nov 10, 2015, by Rashelle · email · Leave a comment

In OT 502: Adult Physical Rehabilitation, we have a lab every week to learn practical skills that we can incorporate when treating patients—
this week depicted below, focused on the activity of dressing.

Sock Aid and Dressing Sticks

The picture on the left demonstrates me using a sock aid! This assistive device is often utilized with adults, who have physical limitations that make dressing difficult. The sock aid can facilitate modified, independent dressing for people following surgeries to the hip, spine or legs, or for those who may live with chronic diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. Within that same lab, we learned about the benefits of dressing sticks, button hooks and reachers to assist with upper body dressing (as pictured on the right).

Additionally, in my level 1 fieldwork rotation, I learned how to dress a patient with compression bandages, in order to treat edema. Edema is a condition in which a person has a fluid buildup in a part of their body. By dressing patients with these bandages about once a week, the fluid can drain away from the swollen region.

Edema Bandaging

(That’s my foot! I even got the real patient experience by having to lay in the hospital bed).

Furthermore, while you can learn these patient dressing techniques at most occupational therapy schools—USC also teaches students how to dress professionally and with school spirit!

Joe and Ellen Dressing Professionally

Here, Joe Ungco, a fellow student ambassador, and Ellen Wleklinski, an OTD resident are modeling their business attire, which we wear often for class presentations, fieldwork, conferences, meetings or interviews.

USC tailgate outfits

Finally, we FIGHT ON proudly with our traditional USC attire for football games, tailgates and other sporting events.

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