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James Madison University

Students present at VOTA conference

The weekend of October 14th-16th, twelve students and two faculty members from James Madison University’s Masters of Occupational Therapy program presented at the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association conference in Glen Allen, Virginia. Their respective presentation topics were as follows:

Second-year OT students, Alex Le and Heidi Maeyer, presented a poster entitled “Facilitating Communication Between Caregiver, Child, and Therapist Within a Group Program for Pre-Adolescent Males: A Multi-Dimensional Approach”. Alex and Heidi presented their research about different ways in which OT's can enhance effective communication between caregiver, child, and therapist. During their poster presentation, they explained that they were using three different modalities: photo elicitation, educational handouts, and group discussions, to achieve the aforementioned goal. Half way through their group intervention program, they spoke towards the progress they have witnessed through clinical observations and from feedback that parents provided. Alex reported, “we received great feedback from audience members comprising of OT faculty, students, and counselors!”

PHOTO: Voat
Pictured: Second-year OT students Alex Le (far left) and Heidi Maeyer (middle) presenting their poster entitled “Facilitating Communication Between Caregiver, Child, and Therapist Within a Group Program for Pre-Adolescent Males: A Multi-Dimensional Approach” at the VOTA conference.

Second-year OT students, Christie Briskey and Elyse Powderly, presented a poster entitled "Exploring the impact of an occupation-based group on self-esteem and self concept in childhood cancer survivors". Christie and Elyse explained a group protocol component of their research project entitled “Exploring the impact of an occupation-based group on self-esteem and self concept in childhood cancer survivors”. The students spoke to various occupational therapy students as well as practitioners about an OT's role in childhood cancer survivor-ship care and how to create a strong group environment among participants. The intervention group in their study focuses on occupational exploration through self-expressive activities. Christie and Elyse will be presenting their data from the research project at the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference next April. 

PHOTO: VOTA
Pictured: Second-year OT students Elyse Powderly (left) and Christie Briskey (right) presenting their poster entitled “Exploring the impact of an occupation-based group on self-esteem and self concept in childhood cancer survivors” at the VOTA conference.

Second-year OT students, Megan Dwyer and Meaghan Smith, presented a poster entitled “The Impact of Occupation-Based Interventions on Social Interaction Among Nursing Home Residents “. Megan and Meaghan looked at the impact of occupation-based interventions on social interaction among nursing home residents. The residents in this study participated in six alternating cooking and gardening group sessions. It was the researchers hope that by providing the residents with the opportunity to engage in highly valued occupations in a group setting, they ultimately would begin forming lasting relationships with the other residents in the group. Megan Dwyer reported that the “VOTA conference proved to be an extremely valuable experience” and was excited to “meet OT practitioners who were interested in our research and listen to their thoughts about our project as well as words of encouragement”.

PHOTO: VOTA
Pictured: Second-year OT students Megan Dwyer (middle) and Meaghan Smith (right) presenting their poster entitled The Impact of Occupation-Based Interventions on Social Interaction Among Nursing Home Residents”, with their research advisor, Dr. Twylla Kirchen (left), who also presented a workshop entitled “Using Occupation-Based Interventions with Patients in Skilled Nursing Facilities (Rehabilitation, Disability + Participation)“ at the VOTA conference.

The Masters of Occupational Therapy program director, Dr. Twylla Kirchen, presented a workshop entitled “Using Occupation-Based Interventions with Patients in Skilled Nursing Facilities (Rehabilitation, Disability + Participation)“. In this powerful session, Dr. Twylla Kirchen discussed the importance of making interventions occupation-based. She demonstrated the effectiveness of these interventions through a personal story in which she completely turned a skilled nursing facility around and changed patients’ lives for the better. There was an unkempt courtyard in the facility, which was the view that the patients’ in the facility had to view when they looked out their windows. Dr. Kirchen involved her patients in occupation-based gardening activities, and transformed the courtyard into a beautiful space that brought happiness and life to everyone there. Additionally, Dr. Jeanne Wenos discussed a personal story, which emphasized the importance of occupation-based interventions from the perspective of a family member of a patient. Both stories were inspirational and informative.

Second-year OT students, Hope Sadowski and Chanele Molano, presented a poster entitled “Aquatics as a Therapeutic Medium for Early Occupational Therapy Intervention”. Hope and Chanele illustrated the complexities of early parent-infant relationships and the implications of these interactions on participation throughout the lifespan. By examining parent-infant swim classes in the local community, the aquatic environment was compared to more typically utilized land-based environments for early occupational therapy intervention. During this presentation, researchers discussed the impressions of mothers who attended these parent-infant swim classes, the influence of their participation on the mother-infant relationship, and most significantly, the influence of the aquatic environment on the mother-infant relationship. Furthermore, the role of early occupational therapy services were justified within this community based parent-infant swim class setting

PHOTO: VOTA
Pictured: Second-year OT students Hope Sadowski (left) and Chanele Molano (right) presenting a poster entited “Aquatics as a Therapeutic Medium for Early Occupational Therapy Intervention” at the VOTA conference.

Second-year OT students, Clara Wright and Jake Gilbert, presented a workshop entitled  “Occupational Therapy’s Potential Role and Influence within International Medical Missions”. Clara and Jake discussed the potential role of occupational therapy in medical missions, particularly in developing countries. The organization of Operation Smile was discussed, emphasizing the powerful impact of medical missions on individual lives as well as international relationships. Presenters disclosed personal accounts of their experiences overseas and how organizations like Operation Smile have deeply impacted their lives personally. They then discussed how occupational therapy can implement their unique set of skills within varying cultural contexts in order to promote meaningful activities which are not only vital for increased functionality in day-to-day life, but also for individual survival.

PHOTO: VOTA
Pictured: Second-year OT students Jake Gilbert (left) and Clara Wright (right) who presented a workshop at the VOTA conference entitled “Occupational Therapy’s Potential Role and Influence within International
Medical Missions”.

Second-year OT students, Hannah Fauber and Stephanie Jansen, and their research advisor, Dr. Jeanne Wenos presented a workshop entitled “Identifying Partners for Interprofessional Collaboration to Implement Emotional Regulation Strategies for Children in Elementary School Settings (Children + Youth)”. Hannah, Stephanie, and Dr. Wenos discussed the consultative role of occupational therapists in school-based settings and provided a yoga-based intervention protocol for OTs to use in school-based settings to combat difficulties children may have with emotional regulation. The researchers also discussed ways in which bullying occurs in school-based settings and how OTs can use a collaborative approach with other school professionals, such as guidance counselors and physical education teachers, to prevent bullying behaviors.

PHOTO: VOTA
Pictured: Second-year OT students Hannah Fauber (left) and Stephanie Jansen (right) with their research advisor, Dr. Jeanne Wenos (middle) who presented a workshop at the VOTA conference entitled “Identifying Partners for Interprofessional Collaboration to Implement Emotional Regulation Strategies for Children in Elementary School Settings (Children + Youth)”.

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