On Saturday, October 3rd, I participated in the 2015 NAMIWalks LA with a bunch of my classmates as “Team Occupational Therapy”, led by one of our clinical faculty members, Dr. Delgado! NAMI stands for the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the overall purpose of NAMI is to change how Americans view persons with metal illness. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
All of the attendees met at Grand Park early in the morning for a pre-walk celebration and then we began our walk around Downtown Los Angeles to raise public awareness of mental illness and to display our support for people affected by mental illness. This was a very fun, 5k walk that took about 2 hours to complete. As I am currently in the Mental Health immersion in the program, this walk was very meaningful to me because I have the opportunity to work very closely with persons affected by mental illness at my Level I fieldwork site at Century Villages at Cabrillo. I am very committed to supporting NAMI in educating, advocating and increasing public awareness of how important mental health is. As a team, I am so happy to announce that we were able to raise over $2,000 in support of NAMI.
If you would like to learn more about NAMI, or to find out about more local NAMI events going on near you, check out their website at: http://www.nami.org.
This week Pediatrics has focused on Sensory Integration, which basically looks at how a child’s sensory processing relates to their motor planning and ability to engage in occupation. Sensory Integration, or “SI”, was started by USC’s own A. Jean Ayres, who was part of the first OT class to graduate from USC in 1945!
When I first looked into OT, I found this to be one of the most fascinating specialty areas… and today, I also found out that it can be super fun!
[just working on some vestibular, proprioceptive & tactile integration]
In lab, we got to use a variety of the tools & equipment needed for effective Sensory Integration treatment.
It might look like we’re playing in a kids’ gym or maybe training for the circus, but we use these tools to provide important sensory experiences for children with sensory processing disorders (which is common for children with Autism, for instance). The various types of swings, mats, and sensory “toys” give us fun, playful ways to target a child’s sensory systems related to touch, movement in space, & bodily awareness. Through this type of targeted therapy, we aim to help develop a child’s neurological systems to better process information from the environment to support their engagement in activities, such as play and daily living.
You can read up more on Sensory Integration on our website at: http://chan.usc.edu/academics/sensory-integration
Now I’m off to my next fun occupation!
Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the 14th Annual OTAC Afternoon Tea with a Scholar, held at the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Center for Occupation and Lifestyle Redesign. This event was coordinated by one of our clinical faculty members, Celso Delgado Jr., OTD, OTR/L, who currently serves as our Region 2 Director for OTAC.
As the second year OTAC Student Delegate for USC, it is part of my responsibilities to assist Dr. Delgado with Region 2 events. Seen in this picture with me are Dr. Delgado and our first year OTAC Student Delgate, Erwin Borja.
The keynote speaker at this year’s event was Shawn Roll, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, who is an assistant professor here in our division. Dr. Roll presented on the topic of “Innovative Approaches to Advancing Occupational Performance in Individuals with Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Disorders”. This was such an informative presentation that really captivated everyone’s attention and highlighted Dr. Roll’s breadth of knowledge and experience.
As I had the opportunity to mingle with fellow attendees at this event, it struck me just how many of our alumni go on to fulfill leadership roles within not only OTAC, but AOTA as well. I feel extremely honored and inspired to be surrounded by such influential faculty members and practitioners here at USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy!
These are just a few of the many inspiring leaders of our state association, OTAC. (... Many of whom are USC OT alumni! )
The Fall season is absolutely my favorite time of year. It reminds me of the times when my grandma and I would partake in one of our favorite occupations: making pomegranate jelly.
During October and November, I would go over to her house almost every weekend to make our wonderful creation. The process was long, yet meditative. First, we would pick the pomegranates off of the tree. Bags and bags of them. Then, we would sit for 2-3 hours seeding the pomegranates in tubs of water. By doing this in water, the seeds were prone to loosen and break out of their membrane without squirting everywhere. From here, my grandma would juice the seeds to make pomegranate juice (remember, this was before POM juice was a thing). The rest of the process involved adding sugar, pectin, and acid to balance out the thickening action of the pectin. The sugar was integral to the recipe because it increased the volume of the juice, sweetened it, and helped to prevent the jelly from fermenting. The last step was to pour the jelly concoction into sanitized Mason Jars, stir the contents to eliminate air bubbles, and skim the foam off the surface.
Grandma always told me that pomegranates were healthy, but I never quite understood why. Just recently, I did some research to find out their health benefits. Some of the interesting facts that I discovered were that pomegranates contain high levels of vitamin C and many types of antioxidants, namely 3: anthocyanidins: cyaniding, delphinidin, and pelargonidin. The polyphenol context is 3X the amount found in green tea and red wine. Studies show that they are directly related to the prevention of cancer and heart disease prevention
The occupation of making pomegranate jelly has been very important to me throughout my youth and young adulthood. After my grandma passed away, my mom and I have continued to engage in the ritual every Fall season. I believe that every life has meaningful occupations like this one, and that it is worthy task to continue practicing them throughout our lives.
One of the greatest things that USC offers is the chance to learn from and network with the breadth of programs offered at USC. This past Saturday I attended the 5th Annual Inter-professional Health Symposium. This unique opportunity allowed me to interact and collaborate with USC students in their journey of becoming doctors, physician assistants, pharmacists or physical therapists. USC was even able to invite nurses from Mount Saint Mary’s University, to further expand the disciplines represented! The conference focused on the large-scale issue of Urban Health, and emphasized how the solution lies within the cohesion of our health professions.
Each speaker talked about the individual responsibilities of each profession, and the necessity of interdependence if we truly wanted to form an effective, patient-centered recovery process.
During lunch, we were given a case study to practice our newly acquired skills, which we have learned in our respective programs thus far. I was beyond excited to able to tell other professions about what occupational therapists can do with our holistic lens, creative adaptations and healthy routines! It was also exciting being able to reconnect with friends from my undergraduate years at USC. Fight on forever!
Lastly, it was nice to see my fellow occupational therapy colleagues representing our profession in casual conversation and groups alongside me!
Stacey Janofsky, a first year occupational therapy student, can attest to the value of the symposium as she even mentioned it as her favorite memory in the program thus far HERE!