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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Blog


The Hunger Games From An Occupational Therapy Student’s Perspective ⟩
March 29, 2012, by Chelsea

What are OS/OT?

After completely obsessing over the book series The Hunger Games, I finally got to see the film last weekend. Talk about occupational deprivation, if the citizens of the capitol have no better way to occupy their time than to watch a reality TV show of teens brutally killing each other then I think they are in need of some serious occupational therapy. I know that the games are a way to repress the districts and showcase the undying power of the capitol annually, but if the capitol just provided its districts with healthy, meaningful occupations and decent conditions to live in then there would be less cause for the districts to revolt and no need for such barbaric circumstances. Sure, call me biased because I am a student of occupational therapy and would make sure everyone had healthy occupations if I could, but I couldn’t help thinking “what if?”

There are many instances of relevance to occupational therapy in The Hunger Games. When Katniss becomes a victor of the games, she no longer needs to hunt in the woods because she is given plenty of food for the rest of her life, but she continues to break the law and hunt because hunting is meaningful to her and it defines who she is as much as being an occupational therapy student helps define who I am. In addition, although the capitol suppresses the districts of almost all meaningful occupations, even they seem to realize the importance of occupation and expect all the victors to take up a new occupation before their victory tour since they no longer need to work for a living. Peeta takes up painting, which becomes meaningful for him as a way to channel his anger and to manage his undiagnosed yet inevitably present post-traumatic stress disorder. The people of the capitol do not seem to have many occupations aside from altering their physical appearances and drooling over the victors of The Hunger Games. It seems odd that they are not the ones on a reality TV show since their lives are so unrealistic and strange. Unfortunately, the people of the capitol are not too unlike people of our society in their obsession with reality TV stars.

Is the book The Hunger Games a social commentary on how obsessed society has become with the voyeurism of reality TV shows? Millions of Americans are glued to their TVs during reality shows such as Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Jersey Shore, Sister Wives, Teen Mom, The Bachelor, and many more. I guess the term “reality” is a bit misleading because most of these shows are dramatic exaggerations of daily life that give unrealistic expectations of how reality should be. So if these “reality” shows actually do affect our perceptions of reality, how are they affecting our daily occupations?


Don’t Look Down! ⟩
February 3, 2012, by Chelsea

Living in LA What are OS/OT?

In occupational therapy we learn that different people have different sensory thresholds. Some have low sensory thresholds and get all the sensory stimulation they crave just by trying a new type of food. Others have high sensory thresholds and crave activities that will boost their adrenaline such as rollercoasters, snowboarding, dirt-biking, and rock-climbing. Well my boyfriend happens to be someone with a high sensory threshold and enjoys all of the adrenaline boosting activities I just mentioned and more. Last weekend we took a group of friends on a treacherous hike to a hidden waterfall. We didn’t really specify that the hike would involve rock-climbing and so all ten of our friends agreed to go. The hike was just north of Pasadena in a place called Eaton Canyon, which runs along the San Gabriel Fault. The beginning of the hike is easy until the rock-climbing begins. It involves cliffs, ropes, rocks, creeks, and at the end a beautiful 35-40 foot waterfall. Once we reached the waterfall there was an awesome area in the rocks that had been carved out and smoothed by the water so that it formed a fun waterslide that we could slide down and it would shoot us out about 30 feet above the water into the pool at the foot of the waterfall. I went on the waterslide the last time I hiked there during summer, but this time the water was much too cold for my liking and I’m pretty sure my sensory threshold had already been met without having to drop 30 feet into a pool of freezing cold water!



My Mom Came to Visit Me! ⟩
January 26, 2012, by Chelsea

Living in LA School/Life Balance What are OS/OT?

Last Monday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, my amazing mom drove two and a half hours from San Diego just to hang out with me for the day. We are both avid beach-goers and so, naturally, we decided to beeline for the Pacific Ocean. We hopped on the 110S, merged onto the 105W, and didn’t stop until we saw the bright sun shining over the sparkling water. One of our favorite restaurants in Manhattan Beach is called the North End Café, which had a debut on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and has been a hot spot ever since. We drove down Highland Avenue, but passed the North End Café since it looked so busy and we decided to try somewhere new with a good view. Well we got a great view, but the food was nothing to brag about and I can’t even remember the name of the restaurant.

After eating, my mom and I went to a small grassy park looking over the beach and sat down. There were four blond little girls ranging from 2 years old to 7 years old and they had three skateboards. The grassy park started on Highland Avenue and went almost all the way down the hill to the beach. It started with a plateau, then curved downward, then plateaued, and so on. The four little blond girls would sit on their skateboards and ride down the hill from the top to the bottom laughing and screaming for joy. My mom and I had so much fun watching them and I couldn’t help thinking about my Sensory Integration elective and how these little girls were organizing play and integrating their senses so flawlessly. In my head I’m thinking, “Wow, they are receiving proprioceptive, vestibular, and tactile input from this activity, all of which is aiding their childhood development and they don’t even know it!” The proprioceptive skill of knowing where their body was in space will help their motor coordination, the vestibular input of motion caused by gravity will help their postural control, and the tactile input of holding onto the skateboard will help their skilled movement as well as emotional development! After taking this sensory integration course I don’t know if I will ever be able to look at kids playing without thinking in occupational therapy terms!


Living in Downtown LA ⟩
January 19, 2012, by Chelsea

Housing and Transportation Living in LA

This year I decided not to live in USC housing and rather live in Downtown, Los Angeles. Although it isn’t as convenient as living on or right off campus, it only takes me 10 minutes to get to either campus and I couldn’t be happier in my apartment! One of the perks of living in Downtown is having so many great food places that I can walk to or that are a quick cab ride away. Some of my favorite restaurants are Bottega Louie, Mignon, and Pattern Bar. At Bottega Louie you can count on everything being delicious. It is Italian-American Cuisine so they have everything from pizza and pasta to burgers and filet mignon. Mignon is a small wine and cheese bar. They also have delicious smoked fish and croquette monsieur. Pattern Bar is in the fashion district, hence the name “Pattern” Bar. I recently tried it for the first time and it has become my favorite location in downtown for tapas, drinks, and ambiance. My favorite dish so far is the Cachapa, which is the owner’s grandmother’s recipe. I would describe it as a sweet corn crepe with Venezuelan cheese in the middle, drizzled with agave nectar, and topped with a sliced strawberry.

Another thing I like about living in downtown is the Peace Yoga studio I go to. Peace Yoga is not just a studio for yoga, it doubles as a raw foods café. In fact, the reason I went to Pattern Bar in the first place was because I met the friendly owner at the Peace Yoga café after class one day and discovered that Pattern bar was right next store. At the Peace Yoga café, Sherri makes the most incredible raw shakes and meals. She gets her ingredients from all around the world: Himalayan rock salt, Madagascar vanilla bean, spices from Bali, etc. Her fresh fruits and vegetables she gets from all the different farmers markets around LA. I love her cacao, coconut and cashew shakes, her raw mango sorbet with strawberry drizzled on top, her flavorful savory sauces for salads or “pasta”, and sometimes I’ll just ask her for a fresh cold coconut to sip on!

I love all of the cultural experiences Downtown LA has to offer such as the monthly Art Walk where hundreds of people walk the streets of downtown and wander into tons of art galleries or stores converted into art galleries that are open late into the night. I love the view from the rooftop area of my building. I love living conviniently close to the 110 freeway. I love the people who live with me and near me. All in all, I guess there aren’t many things I don’t love about living in Downtown!


Terapia Ocupacional ⟩
January 12, 2012, by Chelsea

International What are OS/OT?

I have always wondered about the extent of occupational therapy’s impact around the world. If I ever wanted to move to a different country would I be able to find a good job practicing OT? Would there be a great stigma against disability? How would I advocate for my patients?

This year we have many international students from various countries such as India, South Korea, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan studying in our program at USC and their stories have been intriguing. Many of these students have already been practicing occupational therapy in their countries and have come to the United States to obtain their Master’s or Doctorate from USC. A lot of the stories I have heard indicate that many other countries are less accepting of disability than our own. My friend from India told me that Mothers are often deeply ashamed of their children who have disabilities. In fact, one mother had the audacity to ask my friend how to essentially “get rid” of her child. However, I have also heard stories of countries that are much more accessible to people with disabilities than the United States.

Thankfully, the United States has come a long way since the beginning of the 20th century in terms of disability rights and acceptance. The right of people who are disabled have been protected by Government legislation such as the Civil Rights Act, the Social Security Amendments of 1965, the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1975, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to name a few. I would love to learn more about the rights of people who are disabled in other countries. Someday I hope I can travel around Latin America and practice occupational therapy. I speak Spanish and I am taking an elective this semester titled “Spanish for the Health Professions” so I am not too worried about the language barrier, but if I were to practice OT in another country I would need to know a great deal about the rights of people with disabilities so that I could advocate for my patients as I would in the United States. One beneficial resource is the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, which supports the development, use and practice of occupational therapy worldwide. Spreading occupational therapy practice and ideals to areas of the world that lack adequate rehabilitation services is an alluring, yet daunting task and something that I definitely hope to do someday. The world has quite a ways to go in addressing the rights of people with disabilities, therefore I believe that many countries would benefit from learning about the policies we have in the United States and vice versa.

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