Inaugural Jim Hinojosa Alumni Award Winner Announced

Dr. Neil Harvison

In honor of Dr. Jim Hinojosa’s immense contributions to the NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy and to the OT profession as a whole, we are honored to share the establishment of the Jim Hinojosa Alumni Award. This annual award seeks to recognize an outstanding NYU OT alumni who has made significant contributions to the profession.

We are pleased to announce the 2017 and inaugural award winner is Dr. Neil Harvison. Dr. Harvison is a two-time alumni of the department (M.A. 1988 and PhD 2005), and has contributed his life’s work to the OT profession. Dr. Harvison is a state licensed OT and is currently the Chief Officer for Academic and Scientific Affairs and Director of Accreditation and Academic Affairs at the American Association of Occupational Therapy. He has also previously worked as a Hospital Director at Mount Kisco Hospital Center, an Associate Director of Rehab Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, and Assistant Chief Occupational Therapist at Beth Israel Medical Center, amongst other positions as an OT.

We sat down with Dr. Harvison ahead of the AOTA convention, where he will be honored at the NYU OT alumni reception, to learn more about his life and work.

Please tell us a little bit about your background, and your path to becoming an OT.

I grew up in a working class neighborhood of Brisbane, Australia. I was one of five children and our dad worked as a gardener.  I had some exposure to health professions through my disabled sister, but I really knew little about occupational therapy before I started exploring university programs. I shadowed an OT for a day and was sold!

I was fortunate to get admitted into the very competitive bachelor of occupational therapy program at the University of Queensland. The program came with free tuition and my family’s financial status allowed me to get living and other school fees covered by a government stipend. I graduated from the program with my class in 1983, and I stayed an extra 12 months to complete the honors research program. I then practiced as an OT in pediatrics in Brisbane before coming to NYU in 1986 to complete the MA in OT.

How do you think your education at NYU prepared you for becoming a leader in the field?

While the content in the coursework was important it would have been the exposure to my mentors in the NYU OT department that made the big difference. Initially, I spent a lot of time with Anne Mosey and Betty Abreu who both taught in the graduate programs. They each had very distinct leadership styles, but they both taught me the importance of carefully analyzing and reflecting on the available data before making an independent decision. They gave their students permission to question the status quo, as long as you had the data and rationale to support your argument, and more importantly that change was not necessarily a bad thing.

Later in my tenure at NYU it was faculty including Debbie Labovitz , Mary Donahue, and Jim Hinojosa who guided my career development. I still apply the skills I learned at NYU in my daily work life.

You have worked to implement community-based integrative medicine programs and inpatient integrative medicine initiatives, why do you think these types of applications of OT philosophy are important in moving the field forward?

I did have the opportunity to work on developing a number of integrative medicine programs. I think one of  the reasons I was selected to lead these programs was closely tied to my background as an OT and our beliefs on the role of occupations in achieving health and wellness. As a profession one of our distinct strengths is our ability not to be tied to the disease focused model of health care, and our belief that health and wellness can be achieved through successful participation in occupations.

Why do you think continuing education for OT’s is so important?

A workforce of occupational therapy practitioners who maintain “currency” in practice is essential. The health care delivery system is changing rapidly and demanding quality services demonstrated through outcomes. The OT workforce must be delivering services that demonstrate the profession’s distinct contribution to the health and wellness of society. This can only be achieved if that work force is knowledgeable of the current interventions that achieve these outcomes.

What do you consider your most significant accomplishments in the field? What do you hope to accomplish in the future with your work at AOTA?

At this stage of my career I think it would be the strides we have made over the last 10 years in the quality of our education programs and our position within the higher education community.

Like most health care professions, the majority of our educators were trained to be practitioners and not to be faculty and teachers. We have worked a lot on faculty development and developing the quality of our program curriculums. Despite our relatively small numbers, we have achieved a prominent position within the community of health care profession educators and are recognized for the rigor and quality of our programs.

The focus of my work over the next 5-10 years will be on developing high-value continuing professional development.  As a profession we graduate entry-level practitioners prepared to be leaders in the health care. We now need to ensure that members of our workforce maintain the same level of competency throughout their careers.

Frieda J. Behlen Scholarship Awardees for 2017 Announced

The NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarships. This year’s awardees are Kathryn Ross, Alexia Santiago, and Claire Sherman. These three exceptional students will each receive a $2750 tuition award for their Summer 2017 semester.

Many congratulations to our 2017 recipients!

Kathryn Ross has fostered two passions during her time in the OT department: pediatrics and cooking. Through a fellowship with Dr. Koenig at the Center for Discovery, she was able to work with students in the CSD and Nutrition departments at Steinhardt where she saw the impact food can have on both children and adults with physical or cognitive impairments. Upon graduation in 2018, she hopes to create a cookbook with family-friendly recipes that can be combined with educational resources for how to utilize adaptive equipment in the kitchen.

Alexia Santiago is passionate about mental health and orthopedic rehabilitation, two areas that work in unison with many clients. In her future as an Occupational Therapist, she plans to create and use evidence-based research that reflects the benefits of actively incorporating mental healthcare in all domains of OT, and hopes to make things better for her clients through research and political advocacy. Alexia looks forward to the many opportunities available to tailor her OT practice to her talents and interests.

Claire Sherman came to the OT program with a desire for her future clients to live the most independent and productive lives possible, and through her time in the program has grown to cultivate her interests in the areas of work rehabilitation and hand therapy. She has a passion for advocacy and along with being a clinician, she looks forward to being an advocate for those with disabilities through the promotion of legislation and policies beneficial to these populations.

The Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarship is an endowed fund created principally by gifts from alumni of the occupational therapy programs at NYU. Income generated by the endowment is awarded annually to students who demonstrate superior academic achievement as well as financial need. With growth in the fund’s balance from new gifts, the amount given out has been able to increase and will continue to do so. The award takes the form of a tuition aid applied toward summer courses. Professional Program second-year students are eligible to apply.

The fund was named to honor the memory of Frieda J. Behlen, founder and longtime chair of NYU’s Department of Occupational Therapy. Ms. Behlen was known for never hesitating to find monies, even if from her own pocketbook, to enable deserving students to complete their studies.

To contribute to this and other Department of Occupational Therapy funds please visit http://www.nyu.edu/giving/.

Janet Njelesani Receives Grant from UNICEF

The Department congratulates Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Janet Njelesani on her recent grant from UNICEF. Dr. Njelesani has worked with UNICEF throughout her career, and her research currently focuses on enhancing equity for children with disabilities in low and middle-income countries.

Dr. Njelesani was awarded funding in the amount of $320,226 from UNICEF. The funding supports the project, entitled “The landscape of child disability in Rwanda”, and will support the development of national child disability indicators for Rwanda, which align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The overall goal of the project is to improve the monitoring of the rights of children with disabilities in Rwanda, building on the work of the Government of Rwanda and the National Council of Persons with Disabilities. The project is led by Dr. Njelesani, in collaboration with the University of Toronto’s International Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation.

Study by Kristie Patten Koenig: Adults With Autism See Interests as Strengths, Career Paths

Department of Occupational Therapy Associate Professor and Chair Kristie Patten Koenig recently published the findings of a new study in the journal Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, which found that adults on the autism spectrum see their interests as possible fields of study and career paths, as well as ways to mitigate anxiety.

The findings continue a shift away from perceiving strong interests as a negative, and toward a perspective that recognizes the strengths and potential of these personal pursuits.

To read more about the study and its findings, visit Steinhardt At a Glance.

Steinhardt OT’s Listed on 100 Most Influential List for Profession Centennial

The American Association of Occupational Therapy (AOTA) is celebrating 100 years of occupational therapy as a discipline, and we are proud to share that many members of the NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy community have made the list of 100 Most Influential People. Included on the list are Steinhardt graduates Wimberly Edwards, MS, OTR, Paula Kramer, PhD, OT, FAOTA, Lorraine Pedretti, MS, OTR, and Professor Emeritus’ and former department chairs Anne Cronin Mosey, PhD, OT, FAOTA and Jim Hinojosa, PhD, OTR, FAOTA.

We spoke with Dr. Hinojosa, who recently retired from the Department in 2016, about his career, how it feels to be included on this list, and what he predicts for the future of the profession.

What do you consider to be the most significant accomplishment in your career?

I would say that my most significant accomplishment in the profession has been my scholarly work, including publications and research. I also have committed extensive service to the profession serving on the Executive Boards of the American Occupational Therapy Association Executive Board, American Occupational Therapy Foundation, and the New York State Occupational Therapy Association. I specifically served 13 years on the AOTA Commission on Practice, six years as chair.

What are you most proud of about being named one of 100 most influential OT’s?

I am most proud of being nominated by some of my peers whom I really respect. It is an incredible honor as the profession prepares to celebrate its centennial.  I think I am most proud of what one nominator wrote about me being a “Prime mover in most of the major developments in the profession over his entire, long career. In this nomination, I would principally stress his scholarly contributions which have had a major influence on the dissemination and formation of occupational therapy knowledge. This is true within the USA for occupational therapy practitioners and academics; for many, many students, and, as well, internationally, in occupational therapy and other health professions. . . His work is followed by thinkers throughout the world.”

What are the most significant changes in the profession that you’ve witnessed over the past 20 years?

Over the past 20 years, Occupational Therapy has responded to changes in society and rapidly adopted new knowledge and technological advances. Most significant is the adoption of evidence-based practice to support the importance of addressing people with disabilities, and to address daily occupations in the natural environment. In pediatrics, occupational therapy has become standard practice addressing the unique needs of young children.

Where is the profession headed? What do you see as the next big change?

This is an interesting question. As I am not sure what the big change will be–but I can speculate that the next major change will be an advancement in dealing with people with psychosocial disabilities in the natural setting. While I’m sure it will continue to become more evidence-based and scientific, my hope is it will not lose its art of practice in the importance of client-centered care.

 

 

Occupational Therapy Scholar Series: Fall 2016

The Fall 2016 semester brought three wonderful guest speakers to the department of Occupational Therapy as part of our Occupational Therapy Scholar Series. We were honored to have these insightful researchers visit the department to speak to students, faculty, and staff about current issues in the field.

Dr. Simona Kwon: Asian-American Health: Community Engaged Research and Context
The series kicked off on October 6th, when Dr. Simona Kwon presented her lecture “Asian-American Health: Community Engaged Research and Context”. Dr. Kwon is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Population Health and Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and holds an appointment in the NYU Global Institute of Public Health.

Dr. Kwan spoke about her research, which examines the social and cultural contextual factors that influence health and health outcomes amongst racial and ethnic communities particularly Asia Americans. Dr. Kwon works collaboratively with multi-sector coalitions made up of local and national community-based organizations, government agencies, service delivery organizations, and multi-disciplinary researchers to address community level health disparities.

Dr. Ching-Yi Wu: Advances in Neurorehabilitation Post Stroke: Hybrid Therapy to Motor and Cognitive Recovery

On November 29th, we welcomed Dr. Ching-Yi Wu, ScD., Chair of Occupational Therapy at the College of Medicine, Chang Gung University in Taiwan to present her lecture “Advances in Neurorehabilitation Post Stroke: Hybrid Therapy to Motor and Cognitive Recovery”. Dr. Wu’s specialty relates to evidence-based research on stroke neurorehabilitation and extends to translational research and aging issues. Dr. Wu has published more than 150 articles in peer- reviewed journals and book chapters regarding OT for physical dysfunction.

In the presentation, Dr. Wu introduced a research project on hybrid therapy in an attempt to improve motor, cognition, and function post stroke. The studies include mirror therapy or robot-assisted training combined with transcranial current stimulation/electrical stimulation for improving motor and daily function as well as physical activities combined with cognitive training for enhancing cognitive and daily function post-stroke.

Dr. Orit Bart: Association Between Sensory-Motor Function and Cognitive-Emotional Aspects of Children With and Without Developmental Disabilities

Our final 2016 presentation took place on December 8th, when we welcomed Dr. Orit Bart, PhD, Chair of Occupational Therapy in the School of Health Professions at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Dr. Bart presented her lecture titled “Association Between Sensory-Motor Function and Cognitive-Emotional Aspects of Children With and Without Developmental Disabilities”.

Dr. Bart’s lecture discussed her involvement in a variety of multidisciplinary research projects on the association between sensory-motor function, psychological aspects, and participation of typically developed children and children with developmental problems.

 

 

 

Occupational Therapy J-Term Class Spotlight: Reframing the Meaning of Disabilities to Families

We chatted with Department of Occupational Therapy student Kathryn Pelech to learn more about her experience in the department’s J-Term class Reframing the Meaning of Disabilities to Families, taught by Dr. Judith Grossman. Dr. Grossman is an Associate Director at Ackerman Institute for the Family, as well as Project Director for Resilient Families: Children with Special Needs. The class examines family-centered care for families with special needs, taking into account theoretical approaches as well as experiences of parents and other care providers.

Where are you from, and what brought you to Steinhardt to study Occupational Therapy?

I am originally from Belle Mead, New Jersey, and I studied Health and Exercise Science at The College of New Jersey for my undergraduate degree. I was drawn to the Occupational Therapy Program at Steinhardt due to the accomplished faculty and the opportunity to work in such a culturally rich urban environment, which is where I ultimately see myself staying in the future.

What made you interested in taking the “Reframing the Meaning of Disabilities to Families ” course this winter?

In my career as an occupational therapist, I hope to work with children with special needs and at-risk youth in collaboration with their families. I felt that this course would prepare me to provide exceptional quality family-centered services.

What are some of your favorite aspects of the class?

Dr. Grossman encouraged us to learn about family resilience from the “inside out”, by reflecting on the structure and dynamics within our own personal families, which I found to be a very valuable and enlightening approach. I also felt inspired after hearing about Dr. Grossman’s professional endeavors, and how she has integrated family-centeredness in her practice

What is one important thing you learned from the course that you may have not otherwise come across?

I learned about the sheer impact that positive familial bonds can have on an individual’s capacity to overcome life’s challenges, and the importance of promoting this social support network when working with clients and their families.

What do you hope to accomplish with what you’ve learned in this class?

I hope to apply the knowledge I have gained from this course to recognize and respond to the needs of not only my future clients, but their families as well. On a larger scale, I would also like to work cooperatively with other service providers to address the barriers to family-centered care that exist within current societal systems.

What made you want to become an occupational therapist, and how has Steinhardt helped you fulfill those goals?

I wanted to pursue a career that was devoted to helping others achieve their goals and improve their quality of life. The Steinhardt faculty members have been extremely supportive and have offered unique perspectives from their diverse professional backgrounds and experiences, which has opened my eyes to the endless opportunities that the field of occupational therapy has to offer.

 

ASD Nest Support Project Awarded Contract by NYC DOE to Continue Work Supporting Autism Program

The NYU ASD Nest Support Project has been awarded a $929,100, one-year contract from the New York City Department of Education to provide support services for its ASD Nest Program, which now serves more than 1,000 children with autism in 39 public schools across the city. The grant also includes funding to train Department of Education staff working in non-ASD Nest schools on evidence-based and promising strategies to help children with autism.

“We are thrilled to continue working with the Department of Education as the ASD Nest Program expands into new classrooms, from Staten Island to the Bronx, and are proud of the work that is done in New York City schools every day to help students on the autism spectrum  reach their full potential,” said Kristie Patten Koenig, principal investigator of the ASD Nest Support Project and chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

The ASD Nest Program is the New York City Department of Education’s integrated co-teaching program for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Nestled within supportive neighborhood schools, the ASD Nest program helps children with autism learn how to function well academically, behaviorally, and socially in school and in their community. The goal is to provide a therapeutic environment and supports within a grade-appropriate academic setting.

NYU’s ASD Nest Support Project – housed within the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at NYU Steinhardt – provides training, professional development, and on-site consultation for teachers, therapists, and administrators. The project’s team, led by Patten Koenig and project co-directors Dorothy Siegel and Aaron Lanou, also conducts research, provides workshops and a newsletter for ASD Nest parents, gives presentations at national professional organizations, and writes articles and other publications on relevant topics.

NYU’s partnership around autism with New York City’s Department of Education and Hunter College’s School of Education began in 2001; it aimed to fill a gap in the programs offered for children on the autism spectrum who were capable of doing grade-level work. The fruit of that collaboration was the ASD Nest program, piloted at P.S. 32 in Brooklyn in September 2003.

The ASD Nest Program continues to grow in every neighborhood of New York City. Now, in the 2016-17 school year, the program serves just over 1,000 children with autism in 256 fully inclusive ASD Nest classrooms in 21 elementary schools and 18 middle and high schools.

 

 

Books from our Faculty: Changes in the Brain by Yael Goverover

The department would like to congratulate Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy Yael Goverover on the publication of her new book, Changes in the Brain: Impact on Daily Life, edited by Professor Goverover and Nancy D. Chiaravalloti.

This informative text details the many changes in everyday life as the result of injury, illness, or aging affecting the brain. Experts across brain-related fields trace mechanisms of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, TBI, and dementia as they impact regions of the brain, and resulting cognitive, emotional, sensory, and motor impairments as they contribute to deficits in personal and social functioning. In addition to symptoms and behaviors associated with insults to the brain (and the extent to which the brain can adapt or self-repair), chapters provide cogent examples of how societal and cultural expectations can shape the context and experience of disability. The book’s focus on everyday activities brings new clarity to diverse links between symptoms and diagnosis, brain and behavior.

Included in the coverage:

·The aging brain and changes in daily function.

·Stroke: impact on life and daily function.

·Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the impact on daily life.

·Everyday life with cancer.

·Real-world impact of HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment.

·Disability and public policy in America.

·Living after brain changes, from the patient’s perspective.

Rich in empirical data and human insight, Changes in the Brain gives neuropsychologists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and rehabilitation nurses a robust new understanding of the daily lives of patients, both in theory and in the real world.