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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Student Blog | Kevin

Kevin

Ergo Externship
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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic escalating each day, I had an unforgettable externship experience that kept me uplifted during these difficult times. My original externship plan was to attend an ergonomic certification course in-person and shadow Marissa Marchioni OTD, OTR/L, CEAS at the USC Occupational Therapy Faculty Practice. As the situation escalated, I chose to do most of my externship remotely from home. Ultimately, I decided on three main objectives for the externship:

1. Become a Certified Ergonomics Assessment Specialist
To kickoff this externship experience, I enrolled in the online version of the CEAS course to increase my understanding of ergonomics and further my professional development. The CEAS taught me the basics of evaluating ergonomic risk factors and areas for improvement in a wide variety of workplace settings including offices, hospitals, and manufacturing plants. While much of the information from the course had been covered in the ergonomic elective, my grasp of ergonomics was strengthened, and I was able to apply what I learned to the shadowing experiences with Dr. Marchioni and in the design of my ergonomic device. Additionally, at the end of the course, I received an official certification to assess workplaces for ergonomics which I hope will be a valuable asset in my future career.

2. Shadow Ergonomic Assessments with Marissa Marchioni OTD, OTR/L, CEAS
Before the “Stay at Home” order was put into action, I had the opportunity to shadow several ergonomic assessments with Dr. Marchioni. This was an amazing experience because I was able to see everything I had learned from the CEAS course in real world practice from the lens of an occupational therapist. Dr. Marchioni skillfully used her knowledge of ergonomics, activity analysis, and psychosocial factors to deliver comprehensive ergonomic assessments that were tailored to each person in their specific work setting. I was especially amazed at Dr. Marchioni’s ability to impart her own leadership skills on her clients to create “Ergo Leaders” in the workplaces she assessed. An “Ergo Leader” is a person in the workplace who advocates for positive ergonomic changes such as adjusting the lighting in the space or leading periodic stretch breaks. After observing several assessments, Dr. Marchioni gave me the opportunity to assist on an assessment! While I was nervous to jump in so quickly, I took this offer as a leadership opportunity to put my ergonomic education to practice. As we started our assessment, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much I had learned over a short period of time and with Dr. Marchioni’s support the assessment went well!

3. Designing and Prototyping a New Ergonomic Device
One of the main goals of my externship was to bring together all the education and shadowing experience to design a new ergonomic device. After over 100 hours of 3D design, prototyping, and feedback sessions with Dr. Marchioni, my final prototype is finished! This device will help people to be comfortable on the go and in shared workspaces. While, I cannot give away the details as I am in the process of obtaining a patent, I will be presenting the device during the Mark and Semira Moshayedi Innovation Competition that is scheduled to be held in April!

Kevin

ASBME Makeathon: USC interdisciplinary collaboration
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This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering (ASBME) Makeathon event as an occupational therapy mentor. The Makeathon is an energy-charge 30 hour hackathon event in which 12 teams compete to develop and prototype a medical device for a selected real-world population. Using a combination of programing, CAD design, and access to the USC fabrication lab, including the 3D printers, each team rapidly develops an innovative medical or therapeutic technology. A Makeathon or hackathon challenges teams to produce months worth of work in just several days, in addition to having the material constraint of using only the materials provided by ASBME. While this event is primarily for students in the USC Viterbi Biomedical Engineering program, the organizers took an interdisciplinary approach by incorporating mentors from the master’s and doctorate programs of the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

This year, the teams were challenged to develop a rehabilitation device that promoted or enhanced physical therapy activity in a nonclinical setting for persons who are experiencing hand or wrist dysfunction post-stroke. Additionally, the device had to be intuitive and address one aspect of motor control including strength, dexterity, and joint extension. Due to my background in 3D modeling and education in occupational therapy, I jumped on the opportunity to take part in the Makeathon as a mentor for the teams.

From the perspective of occupational therapy, the OT students were able to provide valuable advice and suggestions to each team considering person, environment, and occupational of the potential user. During my mentorship time, I performed role plays to help the teams imagine the device in everyday use, provided anatomical explanations pertaining to post-stroke hand and wrist considerations, and advised on design aspects. The undergraduate biomedical engineering students were incredible! I’ve never seen such fast CAD design or Arduino programming. While the students were working furiously to produce their device, they took time to seek out the mentorship of the OT and PT students, which helped the teams understand the rehabilitation applications of their designs. Everything from electronic glove games to dexterity puzzles were made during the course of the competition.

Explaining the extensor anatomy of the wrist and hand during mentorship.

Explaining the extensor anatomy of the wrist and hand during mentorship.

Overall, it was amazing to see biomedical engineering, physical therapy, and occupational therapy students collaborating effectively to inspire truly creative innovation. Attending this event was a subtle reminder to the amazing minds and talent of the students at USC!

Kevin

Thank you occupational therapy for…
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I’ve loved every class and experience here at USC in the Entry-Level Master’s Program! Not only have I grown as a profession and student, but I have grown greatly as a person from my time in this occupational therapy program. So to show my gratitude to this wonderful profession, I would like to say thank you occupational therapy for…

Showing me the importance and meaning behind the occupations in my life. From school, to family, to leisure, I learned the value that each occupation holds in my life and how to balance my daily schedule so that I can spend more time doing the occupations I love.

Teaching me to be mindful. The concepts of mindfulness were covered in several courses throughout the program and I have adopted many of the mindfulness strategies into my life such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and most importantly being present in the moment. Mindfulness has allowed me to connect with clients, friends, and family on a deeper level than I had in the past and I will always be grateful for this.

Giving me the strength and knowledge to pick myself up when I feel stressed or down. Through the mental health immersion and wellness courses, I gained valuable insight into the impact occupation has on my mood and stress. By keeping in touch with my emotions and stress, I have been able to make small changes to the occupations in my life to improve my wellbeing. For example, after performing a self-assessment called the Occupational Questionnaire, I realized that I was no longer exercising which was an occupation that always helps me reduce stress. With this information, I was able to reschedule my days to allow for time to exercise and quickly regained the physical and emotion benefits that come along with physical activity. 

Improving my leadership and advocacy abilities. Both in the program and in my role as a Student Ambassador, I have had the privilege to step into many leadership roles and promote the profession of occupational therapy.

While I only named a few of the things I am grateful for, there are numerous ways occupational therapy has improved my life. If you have an interest in occupational therapy…know that you have discovered a gem of a profession that will give back as much as you put in!

Kevin

Winter in Los Angeles
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“Winter in Los Angeles”…pretty much an oxymoron because it feels like summer here all year. So, how do winter enthusiasts such as myself get my fill of the cold seasons? It’s not easy, but here are some of my favorite winter activities to make this warm weather at least feel a little colder.

My first major strategy to get some winter vibes in my life is to change the decorations in my apartment. When I first moved here, I did not have many decorations, but after missing out on the seasons, I started changing my apartment decorations based on season I wanted my home to feel like. Right now, I am transitioning my fall decorations of pumpkins, spice-scented candles, reds, oranges, and browns to my winter decorations. The first thing I do when I get home to get in the winter mood is to light a pine scented candle, then I turn on the TV in the living room and play an ambient visual of a fireplace with crackling noises. While my apartment has a fireplace, I almost never use it because it just does not get cold enough, so the fake fireplace does wonders to give me the relaxing feel of a cozy fire. After setting the winter mood, I start busting out our winter décor including snowflake pillows, holiday lights, and pine-wreaths! It does not take much to create the feel of winter inside even though it’s still that perfect 65-70 degrees outside all year.

After my apartment has been transformed for winter, I start planning my winter themed activities. This includes blowing the dust of the board games for rainy days, making winter-themed crafts, and finding the best outdoor ice-skating location. Last, but certainly not least, I try to make a trip down to Disneyland because if there is any place that decorates for winter, Disney is sure to deliver.

With the changes to my decorations and leisure activities, “winter in Los Angeles” feels just as cozy and cold as I need!

Kevin

Family Traditions
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With the holiday season approaching, it got me thinking about what make the holidays so special for me. At the top of my list are the traditions I celebrate with my family. For the past four years, my girlfriend Jenna and I visit my family in NorCal to celebrate thanksgiving and these are the traditions that are the most meaningful to me.

Although we arrive a few days before thanksgiving, the festivities start the moment we arrive. On the first day, my mom always makes pies and more importantly “pie sticks”…what are pie sticks you may ask? Well it’s essentially just the pie crust baked with cinnamon and sugar on top. We all know the crust is the best part of pie, so let’s just get to the good stuff…right? After we’ve filled up on pie sticks, we walk from my parent’s house, one street down to my older sister’s house to play the latest board games. I never know how she does it, but my sister always has the most fun board games that I’ve never played before. It’s even become a tradition to bring the games my sister taught us to Jenna’s family during their holiday celebrations. The next day we head to Wright’s Lake to kayak. In November, Wright’s Lake is usually partially frozen over, and is surrounded by snowcapped mountains making it one of the most breathtaking scenes of nature I have ever seen. After a day of exercising our upper body kayaking, we wake up early Thanksgiving morning and do a charity 5k run. The run helps me feel more justified in the amount of food I will consume later in the day. The rest of the day we help our relatives prepare the Thanksgiving meal and then we all eat together while sharing stories to catch up on the past year. The next morning we get up early again and we head toward South Lake Tahoe to find a tree in preparation for Christmas.

Wright's

Wright’s Lake

Jenna

Jenna and I searching for the perfect tree!

Needless to say, I cannot wait for next week because I am grateful to have these traditions that allow me to spend quality time with the people I love!

 

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