University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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News and Events

Latest News

Occupational Therapy featured on NPR

, in General News

“Wanted: Men for Occupational Therapy Jobs”

Unemployed males looking for a new career path could turn to occupational therapy. It’s one of the many health-related jobs growing during the economic down turn. It’s also a field traditionally dominated by women. Females make up 90 percent of workers and men 10 percent, and recruiting males into the field has been a challenge.

Link to NPR story

Congratulations to our fellow division:  PT gets first endowed chair!

, in General News

Dr. Jim Gordon, Associate Dean and Chair, announced that a $1 million gift from Tracy Sykes (DPT class of 1998) and her husband Gene Sykes has established the first endowed faculty chair for the Division of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy. Dr. Linda Fetters has been named the inaugural holder of the Sykes Family Chair in Pediatric Physical Therapy, Health, and Development.

An endowed chair at USC establishes a permanently funded faculty position that will be held by a senior professor who has achieved distinction in the field. The establishment of the Sykes Family Chair ensures that pediatric physical therapy and child health and development will be a focal point for the achievement of excellence within Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at USC for many years to come.

The Division will seek additional funding sources for a $1.5 million total endowment. Tracy and Gene Sykes have generously pledged an additional $250,000 in matching funds to help us achieve that goal.

Tracy and Gene Sykes have been quietly supporting programs within the Division for years, and Tracy is a long-standing member of the Division’s Board of Councilors. Although Tracy almost always wishes to avoid being put in the spotlight, we are compelled to recognize her extraordinary dedication and commitment to our mission. We are inspired by her generosity and awed by her vision. In particular, this gift challenges us to match her generosity with energy and vision on our side to achieve national and international leadership in teaching, research, and clinical practice in pediatric physical therapy.

The official dedication of this gift, along with the installation of Dr. Fetters as the first holder of the chair will take place in a ceremony at University Park Campus on November 18, 2009.

$1.25 million Autism Grant

, in General News

Olga Solomon, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, received a NIH grant for $1.25 million to study Autism in an urban context.

This two year multi-method, ethnographic research project examines health and service disparities in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis of African American children living in Los Angeles. We propose to follow a cohort of 16 African American children diagnosed with ASD, their primary caregivers and extended kin and social networks, and the practitioners who serve them, to document the families’ trajectories to an ASD diagnosis. The project will be carried out at two study sites: USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (USC UCEDD at CHLA) and San Gabriel/Pomona Regional center.

Florence Clark AOTA President-Elect!

, in General News

Florence Clark, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA, Associate Dean and Professor of the Division of OS/OT, has been elected President-Elect of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). AOTA and the occupational therapy profession will undoubtedly benefit from her service in this role, and later on as President. Dr. Clark officially assumes office on July 1, 2009 and will serve as president from July 1, 2010, to July 1, 2013.

New Pressure Ulcer Prevention Study Grant

, in General News

USC OS/OT is awarded a grant to study Lifestyle Redesign® intervention for people with spinal cord injury.

As discovered by a team of researchers led by USC OS/OT in a 3-year, NIDRR-funded qualitative study, “Daily Living Context and Pressure Sores in Consumers with SCI,” the ordinary daily experiences of people with spinal cord injury (SCI) can present challenges that make maintaining good health precarious. Of particular concern is the susceptibility people with SCI have to developing pressure ulcers. A constellation of factors, including injury, unrelieved pressure, limited sensation, shearing, friction, skin that is compromised, nutrition, moisture and substance use, can alllead to the formation of pernicious pressure ulcers. Difficult to treat, pressure ulcers can penetrate otherwise healthy tissue, creating gaping craters that can go bone-deep, give rise to systemic infections and even result in death. Treatment can consist of surgery and/or months of bedrest, causing serious disruptions in the life of the person with SCI and limiting participation in desired activities. However, preventive interventions that address the issue have received very little attention.

To address this gap, investigators from USC OS/OT and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center will once again collaborate under the leadership of Principal Investigator Florence Clark, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA to study pressure ulcer risk for people with SCI. In the new 5-year study, to be funded by an NIH R01 grant totalling $2,882,372, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) will be conducted of a Lifestyle Redesign® (LR) intervention designed to help study participants learn to take a variety of healthpromoting measures to prevent pressure ulcer formation. The team used this approach in a small pilot study last year and found it to be feasible for further testing. This pilot study, along with the original qualitative investigation (which was nicknamed “PUPS,” an acronym for “Pressure Ulcer Prevention Study”) and principles identified in the Division’s two Well Elderly Studies, led researchers to develop the larger RCT now being launched.

“The new PUPS grant is a terrific achievement,” declared Dr. Clark. “It indicates that our years of investment in studying the life circumstances in people with SCI that contribute to recurrent pressure ulcers has had a huge payoff. This trial has the potential to show that the Lifestyle Redesign® intervention we have tailored based on this earlier work can cost-effectively protect countless consumers from lifethreatening ulcers. And it may lead to more OTs being funded out in the community to help them.”

Joining Dr. Clark as co-investigators in the study, which officially started on September 1st, will be Stanley Azen, Ph.D., Erna Blanche, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA, Michael Carlson, Ph.D. and Joel Hay, Ph.D. from USC; Salah Rubayi, M.D. and Michael Scott, M.D. from Rancho Los Amigos; Barbara Bates-Jensen, Ph.D., RN from UCLA; and Jennifer Unger, Ph.D. of Claremont Graduate University. Drs. Carlson, Rubayi and Scott were also investigators in the first PUPS research.

Goals of the RCT will be to measure the intervention’s ability to reduce incidence of Stage 3 and 4 pressure ulcers; assess cost-effectiveness and potential cost savings of the intervention; examine the effects of the intervention on participants’ quality of life, and model the process mechanisms that mediate effects. A total of 160 ethnically diverse men and women, including both English and Spanish speakers, will be recruited and randomly assigned to either a 12-month LR intervention or a standard care control group. The intervention will consist of in-home visits and phone calls to help each client create a personalized plan for pressure ulcer prevention. Tools used with consumers will include, the interactive consumer self-education website created as a product of the first PUPS.

“The acquisition of this grant bolsters the presence of our Division in the rehabilitation science community,” Dr. Clark added. “It also contributes to our reputation of excellence in conducting randomized clinical trials and cost-effectiveness studies.”

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