Tag Archives: occupational therapy

TSU celebrates Occupational Therapy Month

Occupational Therapy Month is celebrated in April every year to recognize the contributions that help people improve their ability to participate in daily activities and achieve greater independence. From bathing to eating or helping with clothing yourself, the occupational therapy (OT) master’s program students at TSU are becoming healthcare professionals to provide for all ages to overcome physical, cognitive, or emotional barriers.

TSU student Emily Bailor, right, practices assisting fellow student with adaptive equipment to help with bathing. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“Whatever is ailing you, we look at how that is affecting your occupation,” said Emily Bailor, a second year OT master’s student, said. “If we can get someone back to doing their occupation it’s a direct increase to quality of life, which is our goal.” Bailor stated that OT is a huge part of the healthcare field. “Physical therapy will get you up and walking, but occupational therapy will get your clothes on.”

There are currently 60 TSU students in the program.

While Bailor wants to work with patients of all ages and needs, Justin Brown, a second year OT master’s student, anticipates working with burns or traumatic brain injuries. Brown, of Alabama, said he chose TSU’s affordable program because it, “feels like home.”

TSU student Justin Brown practices using adaptive equipment on fellow classmate for occupational therapy. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“To pursue a higher degree at an HBCU just shows it is prominent,” Brown, who attended TSU as an undergraduate, said. “I am trying to show kids that you can be Black and be an occupational therapist. Whoever you are, you can get a higher degree in your profession.”

The field is 82% prominently white, according to the American OT Association.  

Not only does Brown look forward to diversifying the field, so does Dr. Lisa Porter, an assistant professor in the occupational therapy department. This month Porter is heading to the American OT Association conference with a student to present a conversation related to underrepresented minority groups in their field. “Occupational therapy is a very white profession,” Porter said. “It is important to promote diversity to fit the population we are serving.”

Occupational Therapy students during a pediatric lab practicing clinical observations of sensorimotor abilities. (Photo submitted)

Along with attending the national conference, in honor of OT month, the program has had guest speakers.

OT students and staff also participated in TSU Mud Day this week to give children ages 3-5 different sensory experiences. It is a celebration hosted by the Child Development and Family Studies program.

Porter said OT also focuses on “working to help kids access their education,” from self-regulation to motor skills and mental health. “Our focus on occupation, not just your job but meaningful activities,” she said.

TSU mud day is  a celebration of the Week of the Young Child, which is promoted internationally by the National Association for the Education of Young Child. The April 13 event was a fun sensory experience hosted by The Child Development and Family Studies program in the Department of Human Sciences in collaboration with the Departments of Occupational and Physical Therapy. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

TSU has an affordable OT program and a Tiger Community Rehabilitation Clinic that is a free and student-run. The clinic offers outpatient physical therapy and occupational therapy services to the public. “Having a state school that isn’t as expensive as some of these private programs is important too because it should be more accessible to students,” Porter said.

For more information about TSU’s Occupational Therapy Program, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/ot/ . If you’re in need of OT or PT services, visit the Tiger Clinic website at www.tnstate.edu/tcrc/.

Tennessee State University Students Build Wheelchairs for Disabled Canines

By Emmanuel S. Freeman

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Pugsly the Pug has a new wheelchair.

Born with a spinal deformity that makes it difficult to stay on its feet, the 15-year-old Dutch mastiff has a new lease on life, thanks to a team of occupational and physical therapy students at Tennessee State University.

The Dog Wheelchair Competition winning team members and their professors are, from left standing, Jake Armstrong, Blaine Martin, Dr. Rita Troxtel and Dr. Karen Coker. Squatting with Pugsly are, left, Reagan Worth and Erica LaFollette. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The students, along with some of their peers from the Art Department, designed a special wheelchair that allows Pugsly to take long strides without wobbling or falling.

Dr. Rita Troxtel, assistant professor of occupational therapy and Pugsly’s owner, organized a wheelchair competition that challenged the students to develop wheelchairs for disabled dogs that are low cost, lightweight and easy to maneuver.

The competition was held Nov. 29 in the university’s Floyd-Payne Student Center. About 80 students and their advisers participated.

They came up with 17 different concepts and designs that were tested on Pugsly before a panel of judges. The winning wheelchair went to Pugsly. Troxtel said the other wheelchairs in the competition will be donated to organizations that specialize in adopting or providing sanctuary for animals with disabilities.

A team of two occupational therapy and two physical therapy students came up with the winning design made of PVC pipes, with two big back wheels and two smaller front wheels for turning; a push handle, and stretch fabric with four round openings for the feet.

“Pugsly is grateful for his new wheels,” Troxtel said.

Another team of competitors fit Bugsly in their invention, a two-wheeler. (photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Karen Coker, assistant professor of physical therapy and one of the judges, said the winning design “offered ease of getting in with just one person.”

“The fabric is flexible and soft; it won’t poke anywhere, and the wheelchair has a push handle so that the owner won’t have to bend over,” Coker said. “It is the perfect mix.”

Blain Martin, a graduate physical therapy major, was on the winning team. He said the goal was to develop a wheelchair that was easy to use.

“We all collaborated and we had a group message going in,” Martin said. “We met up several times to make sure we were on the same page with our project. It was great teamwork.”

Other winning team members were Reagan Worth, occupational therapy; Jake Armstrong, physical therapy; and Erica LaFollette, occupational therapy.

The other wheelchairs in the competition will be donated to organizations that specialize in adopting or providing sanctuary for animals with disabilities. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Second-year graduate occupational major Amber Alexander’s team did not win, but she was impressed with the exercise.

“Participating in this competition gave use some real-world exposure to our various disciplines,” she said.

Mike Carter, a Ph.D. physical therapy student, said he enjoyed the teamwork.

“Collaboration was great in our group,” Carter said. “In fact, one of the guys in the group was skilled in making things. He actually has a shop where he builds all kinds of stuff. So this was right up his alley.”

Dr. Hamid Hamidzadeh, head of TSU’s Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Department, lauded organizers for having the competition.

“It’s a good opportunity for them to get hands on experience,” said Hamidzadeh, who was also a judge. “The students will really get the opportunity to go beyond the limit of the classroom.“

Troxtel said the skills the students learned from creating the dog wheelchairs will transfer to developing technology for humans.

“The TSU OT department is considering purchasing a 3D printer to build prosthetic limbs,” she said. “I also plan to hold a competition again next year, but it will focus on building assistive technology for human use.”

For more information on TSU’s various therapy programs in the College of Health Sciences, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/health_sciences/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.