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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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A Taste of Telehealth


by Noelle

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Classes What are OS/OT?

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This semester, I decided to take OT 574 Enhancing Motor Control for Occupation as one of my electives.  While not super related to my interest in primary care, I chose it because I had previously enjoyed learning about motor control during the Adult Rehabilitation Immersion and thought it was a good idea to diversify my course load.  What I was really drawn to though, was the chance to work with patients and refine my “therapeutic touch”.  Trust me when I say that there is a huge difference between watching a demonstration or discussing a case study and actually being the one touching and working with a patient. You have to be confident, firm, but not too firm! It’s a really delicate balance that I was able to practice each week while mobilizing and facilitating movements with my client during the lab portion of this class.

This course was the definition of hands on learning. So when the move to online classes was made, I was very concerned and disappointed that I was no longer going to be able to see my client. 

Luckily, my professors are experts in modifying tasks and coming up with creative solutions in their clinical work.  Turning lemons into lemonade, they arranged for us to continue treating our clients through Zoom, allowing us to give telehealth a try.  Given the hands-on nature of neurorehabilitation, there are limitations to what we can do remotely. But there are also a lot of things we can do.

So far, I’ve had two sessions with my client.  My team and I are focused on designing a home exercise program that will reduce his abnormal tone and help keep him on track to making progress towards his goals.  One of the advantages of using Zoom, is that we get to see his living environment “in person”.  This helps us problem solve in real time around obstacles that he faces in doing some of the exercises and activities we recommend.  I’m hopeful that we are making a well-tailored program for him.

There are challenges to this method.  Sometimes it’s hard to see the specific movements through the camera, or it’s tricky to demonstrate and explain an exercise on a screen.  But I am proud of the way both my team and our client are adjusting and making the most of the situation.  This is a great exercise for us as OT students to think on our feet, be creative, adapt.  Those are core skills to our profession, and I am thankful to be getting this experience and unique opportunity to practice them.  Here’s to the silver linings! 

For this week’s song rec, I’m sharing one of my all time favorites—“Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles…fitting don’t you think?