We had a float in the Rose Parade and it was the coolest!
In case you missed it, there was a float in the 128th Rose Parade on January 2nd celebrating the centennial of occupational therapy. You read that right, the centennial. Occupational therapy was founded in 1917. We have been raising money for the float for a long time now and it was rewarding to see the finished product. The float featured images of OTs working with patients. One image featured our very own Erwin with another USC student who sustained a spinal cord injury and lives in the OT House! There was also a replica of the Hull House where OT was born. Those riding the float were occupational therapists, including the former chair of the division, Dr. Florence Clark, and those who have received OT services.
I was able to volunteer to decorate the float on a very rainy New Year’s Eve. It was an exciting day with lots of commotion between volunteers, tours, and judges. I brought my parents to join in the fun and we helped glue the eucalyptus leaves on the roof of the Hull House. We also were able to see some of the other floats up close. It’s amazing to see the detail and the fresh flowers are beautiful!
My parents and I also went to the Rose Parade to see the float in action and the USC Band! What a great day to be an OT and a Trojan with that win at the Rose Bowl!
This past Friday, I volunteered at the USC Veterans Day Appreciation Reception hosted by our division on UPC in Town and Gown! It was a great event and a wonderful opportunity to say thank you for all of the work our service men and women do for our country every day. The guest speaker was Dr. Jennifer Hermanson who is an OT and a veteran herself. Here at the Chan Division, we feel a strong connection to our veterans as the profession bloomed during World War II when so many hospitals needed occupational therapists to help in the war effort. Still today, many OTs work with veterans in a variety of settings. We cannot thank them enough!
Kimmy and me with our festive tiny hats!
Fight on! from our veterans in attendance!
This past week was what we like to call fieldwork week. With each immersion (adult rehabilitation, pediatrics, and mental health), there is an accompanying level I fieldwork in that practice area. Normally we only go one day a week for the full day, but last week we did not have class and only went to fieldwork. Level I fieldwork is a great opportunity to observe and maybe apply skills we learned in class to the OT real world.
I am in adult rehab this semester and my fieldwork placement is in an outpatient hands clinic. I have been learning about different conditions and interventions related to the upper extremities. We have seen many different prefabricated splints and exercises commonly seen in hand therapy. We enjoyed learning about the benefits of different physical agent modality (PAM) techniques, including paraffin wax, which I can now say from personal experience that it feels great.
This week in class, we are learning all about PAMs and hand therapy! In lab, we were able to try all of the different techniques I see in the clinic and read about the different diagnoses I have become familiar with. We even made our own splints! I have a much greater appreciation for the work that hand therapists do.
Hard to believe we are already entering week six and almost at the halfway mark! This semester has gone by so quickly! During this first half of the course, Adult Physical Rehabilitation, we have been learning about different assessments we may administer when we meet our clients. This past week, our focus was on sensation testing on the upper body. Sensation tests look to see if clients can feel things like touch, temperature, or pain on their skin. Without sensation, a person may be at an increased risk for injury, among other thing, and is very important to address. Clients who often have decreased sensation are ones who are recovering from a stroke or a spinal cord injury.
Our professors brought in all sorts of tools that could be used to test our clients’ sensation! One of the coolest tools was called a “pinwheel” and was used to test for pain. This test is commonly administered along the arm.
Another fun assessment to try out was the one used for stereognosis, which is what allows us to find objects with touch alone; the classic example being finding your car keys in your pocket or purse.
We also tested on each other for two-point discrimination, which measures how close two points can be to each other and still recognize them as separate points.
A unique aspect of the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is that we offer a minor in Occupational Science. I had the pleasure of speaking to undergraduate students this past week about our minor and master’s program and felt nostalgic about my days as an undergrad being back on the University Park Campus, or as it is commonly called, Main Campus.
I know what you might be wondering, “What is the difference between Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy?” A common question. OS is the science that informs the practice of OTs. What the undergraduate students learn in their classes is applied when OTs treat their clients. Fun fact of the day, USC is the birthplace of OS and one of the founders, Florence Clark, currently sits as our division chair.
Students who take the undergraduate classes come from all backgrounds and majors, and many of them have never heard of occupational therapy prior to enrolling in the class. I met students majoring in accounting, biochemistry, engineering, architecture; you name it, and I met them! I think the minor’s classes are an excellent introduction to what it means to be an OT and they are fun to be a part of thanks to their engaging professors and interesting topics, like exploring one’s own creativity and understanding how animal companions contribute to one’s health. I wish I took more advantage of these classes.