AOTA Conference 2015: AOTPAC Talent Show!

So in case you’ve been living under a rock (or holed up studying for finals…same thing) and haven’t heard the news, just a few weeks ago I performed at the 2015 AOTA Conference AOTPAC Talent Show — and I got third place! (Jk, it’s big news to nobody but my parents and my classmates, after one of my professors “outed” me in an email to the class…)

My trophy is at home, but the videos of my performance are now here! I had a great time performing, and it was so much fun to see the talent that all the other students and practitioners brought to the table. It was really a great night, and I truly enjoyed dancing for a cause!

At the show, the captive audience voted with their dollars, putting money in “tip jars” for each performer. The money went to AOTPAC, but all of the cheers and applause went to the performers! I was up against the likes of Bill Wong, a veteran banjo player, and a professional musician, among others — so the stakes were clearly pretty high. But the audience was awesome, and everybody was cheered on whether they were singing, dancing, or doing something else! The winners of the show were this really cool ballroom dancing couple from Texas, and they TOTALLY deserved first place — I wish I had the videos of their performance AND the encore they did after they won!

The talent show was so much fun, and I hope to be able to do it again next year. Enjoy the videos, and make sure to donate to AOTPAC if you like what you see! 🙂

A big THANK YOU goes to my videographer and friend Elizabeth Hart for filming!

VideOT: Voting in the 2015 AOTA Elections

Although it may be a little late in the game for this post, I wanted to help spread the word and encourage everyone out there to vote in the 2015 AOTA elections! The deadline to vote is February 25, 2015, so don’t let it pass you by!

However you may feel about the different issues facing the profession, one thing is certain – your vote is your voice, and it’s important to be heard by the profession’s future leaders! Taking the time to learn about the candidates’ positions and plans for the profession is crucial because the decisions we make today may impact our profession for years to come.

In her most recent Rehab Potential video, blogger Sarah Lyon at OT Potential describes just how quick, simple, and important it is to vote and “help our [clients] by strengthening our national organization”! In less than two minutes, she eases potential fears about tackling a lengthy ballot, demonstrates some pretty legit networking skills, and directs you to the informative interviews she did with current candidates. And before you say “Oh no, all of this voting stuff will just take too much time…,” she also notes that it took her less than 1.5 minutes to vote. Everybody’s got time for that!

Sarah also did a great job of interviewing candidates from two of the key races (Director to the Board of Directors and Assembly of Student Delegates) and outlining their positions on various issues in very brief, easily digestible blog posts. Although the candidate blurbs available on the AOTA website are also helpful, I feel like her interviews provide more information about topics the candidates weren’t able to fit into such brief statements. You can check out her interviews and the candidates HERE!

Sarah is similar to me in that we both started blogging because the information available online about occupational therapy was very limited, and we apparently wanted to change that! I’ve been reading her blog for a while, and she is definitely somebody who’s knowledgeable and passionate about our profession. One of my goals for this year was to interview some occupational therapists, and reading her posts is giving me the encouragement I need to overcome my nerves and just reach out! She also has several other great posts about being a “mentorable” practitioner and ways to get inspired about OT that you should also check out – AFTER you’ve finished voting, of course! 😀

VideOT: The Many Faces of Occupational Therapists

This VideOT pick is another awesome creation by The University of British Columbia’s Master of Occupational Therapy program. In the video, UBC’s MOT class of 2014 “takes you on a tour of six common health care facilities to illustrate what OTs do.”

I love this video because it’s a short, sweet way to explain to people who are unfamiliar with the profession the wide range of places occupational therapists work and the multiple populations they serve. The video includes a wide range of clients, from a premature infant in a hospital NICU to an elderly man living in a long-term care facility. In the video, the narrators give a brief description of where each OT works, the services they provide for the client, and WHY these services are important. Having all three components in the video is crucial because it lets viewers know not only where OTs can work, but also the kinds of services they provide and the reasons why the OT’s services matter. I think it does a great job of demonstrating OT’s distinct value as a profession that helps people of all ages and stages engage in the occupations that are most important and meaningful to them.

The video also shows the importance of professional collaboration in at least one situation. In the segment about the girl who is having difficulty paying attention in school, the OT is shown communicating with the child’s teacher to make changes and adaptations for her continued success in the classroom. This demonstrates another important aspect of an OT’s job – working with a client’s family, teachers, and employers to help them live life more successfully.

I’m definitely adding a link to this video to my “About Occupational Therapy” page, and I encourage you to share it with others as well!

VideOT: How Do You Feel About Hirudotherapy?

Note: The video for this VideOT post wouldn’t embed in WordPress, but it is linked below!

Leech Drawing
A drawing of a typical specimen used in hirudotherapy.

This past week I was on my Fieldwork I assignment, working with an occupational therapist in an acute care setting in a large hospital. While I was there, I heard a therapist talking about a treatment so ancient I never thought I’d see it in a modern hospital!

The treatment is called “hirudotherapy,” and it involves putting LEECHES on a client to facilitate healing!!! I was shocked, but then a nearby PT confirmed that leech therapy occurred commonly at the hospital he had previously worked at. After doing a little research, I learned more about why hirudotherapy can be an effective treatment – when done appropriately and by trained professionals.

If you can stomach it, check out this short Discovery Science video that shows how it’s done:

As I mentioned, hirudotherapy is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years and used by people and civilizations around the world, from Egypt to Greece to the early Americas (Abdualkader, Ghawi, Alaama, Awang, & Merzouk, 2013).

Continue reading

VideOT: Things OTs Say

This video of USC’s occupational therapy students and faculty cracked me up when I first saw it! I have definitely heard many of my professors and classmates use at least a few of the phrases in the video, and sometimes you just have to laugh at how obnoxiously OT we all sound sometimes. The video does get a little hard to hear at some points, but it made for a great 3 minute break from all of the soul-crushing graduate school homework assignments I have this week.

I may or may not be guilty of saying some of these things myself, but I’m definitely going to plead the fifth on that one!

Favorite Quotes

1. “OT is so holistic!”

Whenever I have longer than two minutes to explain what it is that OT’s do, I have to throw in the word holistic just to make sure that my audience is even more confused.

“Occupations aren’t just jobs…”

All. The. Time. ALLLLLL the time. I’m greatly amused by the fact that OTs and OT students are so quick to say “No! It’s not helping people find jobs!” when that’s actually something OT’s can be trained to do – and something that I want to do! But it does get old having to explain to virtually every person you meet that an occupation isn’t just a person’s choice of employment. I guess this is what we get for choosing a word that has such a distinct value*…to only the people in our profession.

3. “My work life balance is so off right now!”

It’s so funny that we go to school to learn how to help people engage in activities that are meaningful to them and yet we never learn how to make time for activities that are meaningful to ourselves! Oh, the cruel irony of OT school!

4. “What a day! I so need OT myself!”

In case you didn’t know, everything that ever happens to anyone can be remedied by OT. Missed the bus? Time to work on your time management and planning skills! Got into a fight with your significant other? OT will help you self-regulate after the encounter! Doing a terrible job of balancing OT grad school with your social life?

…me too. But somehow studying OT hasn’t taught me the cure for that.

5. I just went surfing last weekend.”

“No way, that’s one of my favorite occupations!”

From here on out, everything anyone does is an occupation, not an activity or an event or a basic task. I even used the word in my status the other day and almost wanted to slap myself. It WILL happen to you, too!

6. “I’m an occupational therapist.”


“Do you know what that is?”

“It’s like a PT, right?”

*OT spouts crazy long explanation, complete with a crazy list of acronyms*

This sums up pretty much every encounter with a person who says anything about PT while you’re trying to talk about OT. It’s the standard industry response (millions of acronyms optional).

All joking aside, occupational therapy is where it’s at. But this video does an awesomely entertaining job of showcasing the most frequently used and abused phrases in the profession!

* If the next OT you talk to say doesn’t something about OT’s “distinct value,” you should probably report them to the Board for failing the profession and not doing their job.

VideOT: Because of Occupational Therapy

Today’s video was created by the students in the Canadian University of British Columbia’s MOT (Master of Occupational Therapy) class of 2013. The students created this video as an entry in a contest to promote OT and it won first place! Once you watch it, I’m sure you’ll understand why.

I love this video because it does a great job of explaining the variety of ways in which occupational therapists can help people of all ages and stages with all kinds of diagnoses. For example, the video includes adult and youth characters with a diverse range of physical, psychological and social deficits or disabilities. Early in the video, an older female character states that she would like to continue gardening, but that it is difficult because of her arthritis. Later, a young child says that he wants to make friends but that it is challenging because of his autism. Including such a wide range of people and problems in this video is a great way to showcase the many populations and areas of practice occupational therapists work within.

I think that this video is also a great resource to use for the promotion of this amazing profession. In just three minutes, it demonstrates the complex challenges occupational therapy consumers face and the creative, evidence-based treatments their therapists design to meet their needs. I’m so excited to become a practicing OT in a couple of years and interact with people like the characters in this video – from pediatrics to geriatrics, strengthening to social skills, and everything in between!

Ultimately, I think that the most important aspect of this video is its focus on the functional goals that each character has and how OT helps them achieve these goals. This video shows that the practice of occupational therapy is more than just physical rehabilitation, therapeutic play or recommending adaptive equipment. Occupational therapy is a multidisciplinary profession that incorporates physical medicine, psychology and a uniquely holistic perspective to help people return to their meaningful occupations and thus function optimally in their lives.

I hope you enjoy this video and share it with the people in your life who could use a better understanding of the awesomeness that is OT!

For more information about the UBC MOT program, you can go here:

New Feature: “VideOT”

Hello readers! Today I’m starting a new feature on my blog called “VideOT,” in which I will be featuring interesting news clips, therapy videos, interviews and other videos related to occupational therapy. I’m hoping that the VideOT feature will help people learn more about occupational therapy as it is experienced by different people, conducted by a variety of therapists and approached from many different angles.

Today’s video comes from the Love That Max blog, and it shows an autistic child named Max working with his occupational therapist to achieve several therapy goals. I love this video because it offers a wonderful depiction of pediatric occupational therapy in action – something that can be very hard to explain with just words. As Max’s mom writes in her blog post about the video, the therapy session helps Max work on fine and gross motor skills, verbalizing and other therapy goals all through therapeutic and imaginative play. As I’ve heard from multiple therapists, if it’s good pediatric OT, the child won’t even realize he’s in therapy and working hard – and that certainly seems to be the case in this video!

As a new occupational therapy student, this video provides a great example of the kinds of sessions I hope to have in the future. Max is having fun, improving skills and doing great therapy at the same time, and I hope I’ll be able to have treatment sessions as successful as this in a couple years! This video also provides a glimpse of what quality home-based OT sessions can look like, with a therapist incorporating the child’s own toys, furniture and other household items into the therapy session.

I hope you enjoy watching Max the firefighter engage in a great occupational therapy session, and you can follow more of his adventures at the Love That Max blog!