PhD '02, Occupational Therapy
While Yael Goverover was at Tel Aviv University studying for her bachelors degree in occupational therapy, she did field work in a hospital. There she observed people who had Alzheimer's disease, and she realized her focus as an occupational therapist would be those who suffer from brain injuries. She completed her bachelors in 1992 and, from the same university, received her masters in 1995. She then worked in an acute neurosurgery ward for several years until she came to New York in 1999 and entered NYU's Occupational Therapy doctoral program, where she received her PhD in 2002. Today Goverover is a post-doctoral research fellow at Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Corporation in West Orange, New York.
After receiving your bachelors and masters degrees in Israel, why did you decide to come to NYU for your doctorate?
I knew I wanted to go to school outside of Israel, where I was born, because I wanted to broaden my experience by living in another culture and speaking another language. Then two of my mentors, both of whom are considered to be very good researchers in Israel, recommended the OT program at NYU. That was, ultimately, the deciding factor. I'm glad I chose NYU. I got a lot out of the program. I really developed on professional level, as well as a personal one. I especially enjoyed being a teaching assistant for Professor Ruth Segal, with whom I got to work very closely.
How did your position at Kessler Medical come about?
Near the end of my doctoral studies at NYU, I began to think about what I wanted to do next. I felt that I needed more education, especially in areas of research beyond the subject of my dissertation, which was an analysis of the everyday competence of people with acute brain injuries. Professor Jim Hinojosa, the chair of my department, recommended a few places, including Kessler, which did research on traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, Multiple Sclerosis, etc. I liked Kessler's comprehensive approach, so I interviewed and got accepted. I've been working as a researcher there since soon after I graduated.
What do you see yourself doing once you've completed your post-doctoral work?
I hope to go back to Israel, but only if I have an academic position there. My ultimate goal is to work a couple of days a week in a clinic while I continue to teach and pursue my research. I want to be able to develop a technique that will help people with brain injuries better participate in everyday tasks, and to help their therapists teach these things as well.
Why do you do this kind of work?
Mainly because of the interaction with the patients. Working with people who have brain injuries can be very complicated, but you touch many aspects of their lives. Sometimes it's very sad – you can get patients just after trauma who are in a state of shock. But if you can explain to them what's happening so that they can find and use their innate strength, it can be very gratifying.
Learn more about our Department of Occupational Therapy.