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Students, Faculty Showcase Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy students Miranda Hoyt, (left) and Valerie Pack demonstrate a tool used to help individuals open jars and bottles.
4/23/2010 —

DuBois – The Occupational Therapy (OT) Program at Penn State DuBois recently opened its doors to the campus and community.  Students and faculty of the program organized an Occupational Therapy Open House in order to educate others about their major, and profession. 


"We want to show people what occupational therapy really does," said student and OT Club president Rachel Britton.  "Most people get it confused with physical therapy, and it's really very different."


Britton explained that physical therapy focuses on recovery and strengthens the bodies of those who have suffered an injury or illness.  Occupational therapy, on the other hand, focuses on teaching people who have experienced a change in their physical abilities how to function at the highest possible level. 


"OT is about the person and what they can do, and getting them back to being independent," Britton explained.  "We want them to do the things they did before, even if it's in a different way, so that they can maintain the roles they have in their lives, like being fathers, or mothers, or leaders."


The faculty and students in the program demonstrated the tools and techniques they use in their field to show visitors how OT works.  Occupation Kits are one valuable asset they have.  The kits contain items that are used for some typical occupations and tasks that people engage in, like cooking, home maintenance, and dressing themselves or children.  The exercises provided by the kits allow patients to repeatedly practice these everyday activities.


Visitors also saw the OT house at Penn State DuBois, which is a fully functional space, with a full kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, and other living spaces.  It's the ideal learning environment for OT students, according to instructor Lu Ann Demi. 


"We have this real house, where we can teach students to work with patients the way they would in the real world, helping them to function within their own home," Demi said.


Britton added that helping someone to regain that high level of function is the most important thing to OT patients, and the most rewarding thing to OT professionals.  "It allows the patients to maintain their self worth and self esteem," Britton said. 

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