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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Shawn Roll is guest editor of latest AJOT on musculoskeletal conditions

, in General News

Research journal issue kicks off profession’s centennial anniversary celebrations

Vintage medical illustration of hand musculature/Elisa Schorn, circa 1900

By Mike McNulty

Assistant professor Shawn C. Roll is the guest editor of the January/February 2017 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy. The issue focuses on comprehensive summaries of evidence and multiple original research articles on the treatment of common musculoskeletal conditions, which are the second greatest cause of disability worldwide.

Roll combines his clinical occupational therapy skills with expertise in musculoskeletal sonography and industrial engineering/ergonomics. His research strives to advance the holistic understanding of musculoskeletal disorders and to effectively evaluate and provide prevention or rehabilitation interventions within adult populations.

“As a group, musculoskeletal conditions have a higher prevalence than many other common health conditions, and these disorders present a significant burden, both financially and functionally, to individuals and our society,” Roll said. “It is vital for occupational therapy providers to be knowledgeable about the impact of these conditions on health, wellness and function, and for our profession be actively involved in supporting the rehabilitation, as well as habilitation, of individuals with musculoskeletal conditions to improve quality of life and participation in daily occupational pursuits.”

Within the issue — the first published in 2017, throughout which the profession celebrates the 100-year anniversary of its 1917 founding — Roll co-authored two evidence reviews and an original article examining clinical outcomes for work rehabilitation services. Two of these articles in the issue were co-authored by USC occupational science doctoral student Mark Hardison PhD ’19.

Additional Trojans published within the issue include assistant clinical professor Ashley Halle MA ’11, OTD ’12, assistant professor Natalie Leland, and alumni Rebecca Aldrich BS ’05, MA ’06, Donald Fogelberg PhD ’08, Doris Pierce MA ’88, PhD ’96 and Donna Breger Stanton MA ’79.

Five Trojans aboard 2017 Rose Parade float

, in General News, Student News, Alumni News

Occupational Therapy Association of California float commemorates 100-year anniversary of profession’s founding

Float rendering courtesy of the Occupational Therapy Association of California/Fiesta Floats

Float rendering courtesy of the Occupational Therapy Association of California/Fiesta Floats

On the morning of Jan. 2, 2017, five USC Trojans will be floating high above the streets of Pasadena, Calif., during the world-famous Tournament of Roses® Rose Parade.

The Trojans will be riding on board Celebrating a Century of Occupational Therapy, the parade float sponsored by the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) (PDF). The float commemorates the 1917 founding of the profession of occupational therapy and launches OTAC’s year-long public education campaign to highlight the impact of occupational therapy services upon individuals and society.

The riders with USC connections — current and former faculty members and alumni — include USC Chan associate dean and chair Florence Clark, adjunct clinical instructor Lisa Deshaies, OTAC president Heather Kitching MA ‘02, OTD ‘10, former faculty member Lela Llorens and Jesus David Vidana BS ‘01, a U.S. Marine Corps reservist who sustained a severe brain injury in the line of duty.

The parade caps more than five years of fundraising and organizing efforts led by associate clinical professor Sarah Bream, who has served as chair of OTAC’s Centennial Float Committee.

“The opportunity to work with such a visionary Board of Directors and dedicated committee as well as to interact with the profession around the country has been an extremely rewarding experience; beyond what I could have imagined,” Bream said in an OTAC press release.

The Rose Parade, which dates back to its inaugural running in 1890, includes floats covered in flowers and other organic botanical materials, marching bands and equestrian units and is followed later in the day by the Rose Bowl college football game, the 2017 edition of which features the USC Trojans football team. The parade is viewed in person by hundreds of thousands of spectators on the parade route and is broadcast on multiple television networks in the United States and more than 100 international territories and countries.

23 Trojans on AOTA centennial list of 100 most influential people

, in General News, Alumni News

USC Chan faculty members Cermak and Clark among all-time notables

By Mike McNulty

Twenty-three USC alumni and faculty members are among the 100 most influential people who have shaped the occupational therapy profession throughout its century-long history, according to a new list compiled by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

In preparation for the 100th anniversary celebration of the association’s 1917 founding, the AOTA commissioned an expert editorial board to select the 100 influential people — advocates, thought-leaders, scholars and trailblazers — whose legacies have indelibly shaped the profession.

Most notably, current USC Chan faculty members Sharon Cermak and Florence Clark join emerita faculty members Elizabeth Yerxa and Ruth Zemke on the list. USC Chan Board of Councilors members Linda Florey and Mary Foto also earned spots among the “who’s who” of occupational therapy, both past and present.

USC Trojans named to the list are:

Please note, every effort is made to accurately recognize the USC Trojan Family. If an omission or error has been made to the list below, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Remembering Florence Cromwell

, in General News, Alumni News

An esteemed USC alumna and occupational therapy leader passed away on Nov. 5, 2016, at the age of 94

By John Hobbs MA ‘14

Florence Cromwell 1922-2016. Photo undated.

Occupational therapy visionary, two-time AOTA president, and former faculty member Florence S. Cromwell MA ’52 died Nov. 5, 2016. She was 94.

The former faculty member was a USC alumna, an interim chair for two years before Elizabeth Yerxa ’52, MA ’53 took the chairship, and a member of the division’s Board of Councilors from 1996 to 2001.

Throughout her career, she loomed large over the occupational therapy landscape, making significant contributions on the national stage in areas of political advocacy, research, and education — all of which are still very much evident today.

A respected leader, Cromwell served two terms (1967-1973) as president of AOTA, the professional organization that represents the interests and concerns of occupational therapy practitioners and students across the nation.

During her second presidential term, Cromwell moved AOTA from its headquarters in New York City to Rockville, MD, to be near Washington, D.C. — a relocation meant to give AOTA greater opportunities to advocate on behalf of the burgeoning profession among the nation’s policymakers. 

Cromwell worked diligently to bring occupational therapy under the umbrella of health care by joining the Coalition of Independent Health Professions, a group of multi-disciplined health care professionals, giving occupational therapy much greater visibility among health care providers. She served as the group’s chair in 1974.

From early on, when she wrote Basic Skills Assessment about job assessments for people with disabilities, Cromwell was a champion for developing and refining the profession’s scientific literature. Throughout her career, she was a prolific researcher, writing several peer-reviewed journal articles and many textbooks, including Hand Rehabilitation in Occupational Therapy, The Changing Roles of Occupational Therapists in the 1980s and The Occupational Therapy Managers’ Survival Handbook: A Case Approach to Understanding the Basic Functions of Management.

Cromwell’s countless contributions to the occupational science and occupational therapy profession did not go unnoticed. 

In 1974, she was honored with the AOTA Award of Merit. In 1999, she was recognized with the rarely awarded AOTA/AOTF President’s Commendation in Honor of Wilma L. West. She was also named an inaugural AOTA fellow in 1973 and became the first occupational therapist to be elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Florence Cromwell was the AOTA President when I entered the profession in 1970,” remembered Florence Clark PhD ‘82, associate dean of USC Chan. “At that time, I revered her from a distance, and at 24 years of age, I was so pleased that there was a leader in the profession who not only had the name Florence (which was in rare use in the 1970s), but who also had the same first and last name initials – FC!”

Clark added, “I couldn’t believe that one day I would actually meet her face-to-face, which happened in 1976 when I first joined the USC faculty. After that, we had an ongoing relationship. Once I became chair, she was always there for me, helping me to develop the leadership skills required for my new position. She was one of the foremost leaders in the profession and a remarkable person.”

Toddler palace may house clues to social skills in autism

, in General News

Dr. Barbara Thompson’s research is highlighted at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience meeting

By Sarah Deweerdt/Spectrum News


Toddler Palace

Palace keep: The amount of time a young child spends in a play castle may provide hints about her social motivation.

A half-hour-long ‘playdate’ between a toddler and an adult could help answer a long-standing question about whether and how much a child with autism is interested in social interactions.

Researchers presented the new paradigm yesterday at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.

“There are two hypotheses about what’s driving why kids with autism have social deficits,” says Barbara Thompson, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. One possibility is that children with autism just aren’t interested in socializing, and the other is that they actively dislike it.

It’s a difficult debate to resolve because even typically developing children can’t articulate much about their inner desires and motivations. That task would be even harder for children with autism, who have communication impairments.

Read the full article at Spectrum News.

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