OTAC Conference 2014 ⟩
November 10, 2014, by Leila
Getting Involved Videos
I have been so caught up with school work that I almost forgot to blog about OTAC! Nearly two weeks ago I was able to attend The Occupational Therapy Association of California Annual Conference. I knew this would be a great learning and networking opportunity. I attended the student track both Friday and Saturday, and was able to attend two other sessions of my choice on Sunday. Not only did I enjoy all of the sessions, it was a great opportunity for me to mingle with fellow OTs, as well as OT students from other programs.
Some of the student track sessions consisted of topics covering stress management, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorder, mental health within a pediatric setting and making a fine motor tool kit! Did I mention free stuff? You also have the opportunity to meet potential employers, awesome OT related organizations, check out companies with innovative products and receive tons of free stuff like swag bags, pens, earbuds, etc. It was pretty awesome to say the least! I would definitely recommend attending (or volunteering) regardless if you are in OT school or not.
Fortunately, I was able to capture some of the awesomeness on camera!
Be sure to check out our division Instagram @uscchanosot and the Occupational Therapy Student Council instagram @otsctrojans for photos from the conference and future events!
Application Season ⟩
October 13, 2014, by Leila
It’s been a while since I’ve placed my blogging lens on, but here I am! Our fall semester has made it to the midpoint and I’m sure most of you know application deadlines are fast approaching (at least for early decision). This past week I attended my first information session here at our division, but this time as a student ambassador! It’s crazy to think that nearly 2 years ago, I too, was a prospective student, nervous and excited to hear about occupational therapy at USC. I remember meeting Ricky, a student ambassador at the time, talking about his student experiences. For me, it was also refreshing to hear that he also had an undergraduate degree in business. At the time, I thought having a degree outside of the health sciences realm would hinder my application. Little did I know that the program welcomed (and continues to welcome) individuals with varying undergraduate degrees!
It was a great first time experience being on the other side at the information session, helping prospective students by answering questions and sharing my student experiences. I remember one individual asking me about my living situation and commute. For those of you that don’t know, I live in Chino, CA. It’s about 33 miles from the health science campus in Los Angeles, CA. I typically drive now due to my work hours, but some days I continue to take the metro. In fact, my first year in the program I primarily took the metro. For those of you considering our program but live or want to live in the surrounding LA area, there’s hope! I would recommend looking into public transportation. It definitely beats LA traffic!
I thought it would be fun to make a mini video of my commute to LA Union Station.
For those of you thinking of OT school, in the application process of OT school or anywhere in between, I wanted to let you know to not give up! I know the process can be grueling at times, but you will get there. When I decided that I wanted to pursue OT, I didn’t even know where to begin! One note of advice I do have is to seek out support. Whether it’s through a family member, a friend, a professor, an OT student, an OT, a mentor, etc. Find someone that will support you through the process.
I remember meeting Bill Wong, a former OT student at USC and asking him to be my mentor! I literally found him through an OT blog post and emailed him asking if he could share his experiences at USC. It sounds a bit creepy, but he was more than willing to and luckily, he became my mentor in the process. (Make sure to do your due diligence on the person before connecting with him or her.) Bill and I still continue to meet on a routine basis, and it’s always great to share what is going on in both our lives.
Here’s an impromptu video Bill and I made this past Sunday. Enjoy!
Last but not least, I have been suffering some migraines and neck pain, most likely due to computer work strain. I went OT on myself and ergonomically optimized my workspace! :cheese:
Robotics and Occupational Therapy ⟩
March 18, 2010, by Myka
Different disciplines can work together to help people live their lives to the fullest! Right now I am taking a really exciting class through the Engineering department called Innovative Technology for Autism Spectrum Disorders. It is taught by Olga Solomon, a linguist and autism researcher in the OS/OT department here at USC and is funded by a grant from Autism Speaks.
This class has been really great because it is interdisciplinary and we have both engineering and occupational therapy students. We are in small groups and each group is developing a grant proposal for an innovative technology to use for people with autism to help them do the things they need and want to do. Last week in class we learned about socially assistive robots, which are robots that don’t touch people but can help encourage people and help people with autism learn social behaviors. Here is a video of a socially assistive robot helping someone in therapy to do exercises:
The video also mentions at the end that these types of robots are being used with many different populations, including people with autism. You can see from the video that socially assistive robots may become more used in occupational therapy, as we can have them work with our clients for a different method of providing therapy. I asked the class whether they thought robots could ever take over OT jobs if trained well enough. We agreed that we should be safe from a robot-takeover (I, Robot, anyone?), but robots can definitely be used to supplement occupational therapy.
David Feil-Seifer, a PhD candidate in Engineering, came in to speak to our class about his work with these robots. He showed us videos of his research and we saw that children with autism responded positively to the robots and that using this type of technology may be very beneficial in teaching social skills to people with autism and helping them communicate. He then took some of us to the Interaction Lab, which is featured in the video. We got to see the robots (including the one in the video) and meet some of the other students who work in the lab.
I wanted to take this class to become a well-rounded clinician, and this class is a great opportunity to blend disciplines and engage in mutual learning with engineering students. I can see using robots and other technology in all forms of OT, and am excited to learn more about technology that is used therapeutically. When I started OT school, my dad told me to be the most cutting-edge clinician I could be. “Develop OT robots!” was one of his ideas. At the time, I just rolled my eyes (this is the guy who thought OT was helping people find jobs), but now I think this is a really exciting idea. I’m so glad I’m getting this opportunity to learn about exciting new trends in the fields and work with engineering students to develop technologies for people with autism!