Hilary Stanek OTD, OTR/L (she/her/hers)
Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy
Hilary Stanek received her master’s and doctorate of occupational therapy degrees at the University of Southern California. Hilary completed her doctoral residency at the USC Occupational Therapy Faculty Practice (OTFP) with a focus in Lifestyle Redesign®. As clinical faculty, she is continuing to work at the OTFP seeing patients with chronic neurological conditions, primarily patients living with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and chronic headaches. Hilary is passionate about providing care and supporting people with their non-apparent symptoms that are often not addressing in more traditional healthcare settings. In order to find balance in her life, Hilary enjoys cooking and attending Angel City FC soccer games.
Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
2023 | University of Southern California
Master of Arts (MA)
in Occupational Therapy
2022 | University of Southern California
Bachelor of Science (BS)
in Family and Human Services
2012 | University of Oregon
Cunningham, R., & Stanek, H. (2023). Occupational therapy’s role in supporting college students with multiple sclerosis: A case study. International Journal of MS Care, 25(s1), 94–95. https://doi.org/10.7224/1537-2073-25.s1.1 Show abstract
Background. Although the number of college students with multiple sclerosis (MS) has not been reported, the increase in pediatric and young adult onset rates suggest that the number of college students with MS is likely rising (Hoffman et al., 2019). These young adults with MS face the unique challenge of learning how to manage their health while participating in higher education. Students with disabilities have identified that stigmatization exists within higher education, resulting in many being wary to seek and implement accommodations due to the disclosure process, particularly when their condition may be nonapparent (Helm et al., 2009; Smith et al., 2019; Timmerman & Mulvihill, 2015). To address these challenges, research suggests proactive support for students with disabilities transitioning to higher education, especially within the first year (Smith et al., 2019). Additionally, research calls for support for young adults recently diagnosed with MS to help them build a sense of identity and self-efficacy regarding daily living (Calandri et al., 2019). Occupational therapy practitioners (OTPs) can help meet the combined needs of college students with MS to create health-promoting habits and routines, develop self-management skills, and navigate disclosure and accommodations processes to support self-efficacy with daily living, as well as academic inclusion and success.
Objectives. Describe the delivery of interventions to support higher education participation in patients with MS and provide a case study with clinical outcomes to demonstrate how these interventions can be integrated into an occupational therapy (OT) plan of care.
Methods. The case study subject participated in 18 OT sessions. The following interventions were used to support higher education engagement: symptom management training, education regarding Americans with Disabilities Act protections, development of health-promoting habits and routines for daily living, self-advocacy training, school accommodations, and addressing concerns with symptom management in the education context. The Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) was administered before and after the intervention to capture perceived performance and satisfaction in areas of occupational performance deficit.
Results. Clinically significant improvement occurred on the COPM (+6.0) and satisfaction (+6.0) scores for the education domain. Additionally, the subject showed clinically significant improvement in aggregate scores, with a 4.25-point increase in performance and 4.75-point increase in satisfaction.
Conclusions. This case study highlights interventions OTPs can utilize to address higher education participation and contributes to the literature supporting the need for proactive intervention in college students with MS.
Keywords. Higher education in MS, Management of activities of daily living in MS