Class Notes Spring 2019

Emily L. Amaral (MS ’15) is a registered adaptive riding instructor now — and also provides OT integrating hippotherapy into patients’ plans of care while aspiring towards HPCS certification.

Connie Charney (MA ’80) is the Founder of Food for Thoughts Cards, greeting cards that give back and feed the hungry. While commuting to NYU when she was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of OT for twelve years, Connie packed PB&J’s to give to the homeless. She’s taken that sandwich-giving up a notch through Food for Thoughts Cards. 40,000 PB&J sandwiches have been donated to feed individuals in need.

Rhoda Scherer Cohen (BS ’49, MA ’76) is 91 years old and has been a working OT for 70 years and a patient with degenerative polyneuropathy for almost 5 years. She recently published an article in AOTA’s April 2019 OT Practice Magazine on helping clients transition to living with a disability.

Diane Powers-Foltz Dirette (MA ’93, PhD ’97) and Sharon Gutman (PhD ’98) are the new editors of the textbook Occupational Therapy for Physical Dysfunction, 8th Edition. This essential OT textbook was formerly edited by Radomski and Trombly. The new edition will be available soon!    

Mary V. Donohue (MA ’73, PhD ’85) has published an art book on the work of her second cousin, Marion Greenwood, in which the artist depicts occupational therapy activities for men returning for rehabilitation at the end of World War II. Ms. Greenwood was hired by the United States Army to record this historical intervention for wounded veterans carried out at a hospital on the beach in Atlantic City, NJ. Dr. Donohue has contributed a copy of the book to the Occupational Therapy Departmental Library.

Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Griffin Lannigan (PhD ’04) is the co-author of AOTA’s 2019 Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Adults Living with Serious Mental Illness. Liz is currently the chair of the AOTA Mental Health Special Interest Section. Currently, Liz is adjunct faculty at the University of New Hampshire.

Carolyn Russo-Azer (MA ’85) has worked the past 34 years in Pediatrics/Early Intervention and is currently the Director for Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey’s Early Intervention Program.

Anna Sampsonidis (MA ’89) has lived in Greece since 1993. She is Head of the Occupational Therapy Department of Metropolitan College in Thessaloniki, Greece. Anna is co-owner of two pediatric therapy centers and the organizer of a certification program in Sensory Integration in collaboration with the University of Southern California. A leading expert in pediatric practice in Greece, she teaches and presents within the country as well as Cyprus and other European countries.  

Anne Scott (BS ’69, MS ’82, PhD ’95) has spent 50 years in OT and going strong. She recently presented a paper at the NYSOTA Conference (11/2018) based on the chapter “Narrative Reasoning in Disability-Themed Films.” This was co-authored with her husband, Richard, and published in Global Perspectives in Professional Reasoning (Creek, J. & Cole, M., 2016, Slack).

Chaya Weinstein (MA ’92, PhD ’98) now has an NYC-based private practice in therapeutic coaching after 30 years as a proud occupational therapist working in the mental health field. She assists people with stress, anxiety, or mental health issues and is happy to speak with you or someone you know who might benefit from her services. She can be reached at ecweinstein@gmail.com or 646-902-5098.

Sheila Wilson (MA ’94) is working as a supervisor at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia PA. She completed her OTD in 2016 from AT Still University in AZ and was recently elected as the state representative to the AOTA Representative Assembly for Pennsylvania.

Diana Chen Wong (BS ’90) is currently a Senior Director of Rehab at ManorCare in NJ. She recently completed her OTD from Thomas Jefferson University in January 2019, with her Doctoral Capstone on implementing evidence-based research in practice for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and neurocognitive disorders. She continues to be on the adjunct faculty at NYU and for the OTA program at Rutgers University. She also is in private practice as a Certified Life Coach.

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Janet Njelesani Awarded National Academy of Education Spencer Fellowship

Photo of Janet Njelesani.

Janet Njelesani, an assistant professor of occupational therapy in NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, was awarded a $70,000 grant from the National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the phenomenon of school violence in Lusaka, Zambia.

Njelesani’s project, “Generating and Preventing Violence: Schools’ Responses to School Violence Against Students with Disabilities in Zambia,” is investigating how social, cultural, and institutional practices influence inclusion, protection, and education for children with disabilities in Lusaka.

“Although some one million children are living with disabilities in Zambia and the country is committed to education for all children, little is known about children with disabilities’ school experiences, including the violence that may be perpetrated against them,” she said.

Alongside local partners like the Ministry of Education in Zambia, Njelesani is conducting interviews with teachers, school leadership, and students with disabilities to explore the relationships between educators’ attitudes and behaviors and their corresponding responses to school violence.

The findings of her project will provide direction for school violence prevention and intervention efforts, with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness of educator support and school protection policies.

Njelesani’s research will expand upon her previous pilot projects exploring violence against children with disabilities in Zambia — click here to read more about her work in the region.

Yael Goverover Inducted into the AOTF Academy of Research

The NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy is pleased to announce that associate professor Yael Goverover was inducted into the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) Academy of Research.

The honor, which is the highest conferred by the AOTF, recognizes individuals who have made significant research contributions to the occupational therapy profession. The 2019 class of inductees was recently honored at the American Occupational Therapy Association conference held in New Orleans.

Dr. Goverover joins the ranks of an elite group of scientists and scholars advancing knowledge in the field of occupational therapy. Her scholarship is based upon the need for research studies in occupational therapy that help improve the lives of individuals with functional multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injuries, with a particular focus on enabling these individuals to perform everyday activities.

“I hope that my work (and others’) will improve the lives of persons with cognitive impairments,” she said. “I hope that the research we do will alleviate cognitive impairments and facilitate the transfer and generalization of treatment gains into their daily lives.”

Congratulations to Yael Goverover — click here to read more about her contributions to the field.

Third Annual Jim Hinojosa Distinguished Alumni Award Winner Announced

Photo of Gary Bedell.

We are pleased to announce the recipient of the third annual Jim Hinojosa Alumni Award, Dr. Gary Bedell. The award, named in honor of the late Dr. Jim Hinojosa’s immense impact on the NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy and the entire OT field, recognizes outstanding NYU OT alumni making significant contributions to the profession.

Dr. Bedell is a two-time alumnus of the department, having earned his post-professional master’s degree at NYU in 1986 and his PhD in 1998. He is currently chair of Tufts University’s Department of Occupational Therapy and has dedicated his career to informing the development of interventions, programs, and policies designed to promote meaningful participation of children and youth with disabilities in real-life contexts.

He has authored or co-authored numerous widely-used tools for measuring and promoting participation, including the Child and Adolescent Scale of Participation (CASP), the Participation and Environment Measure for Children and Youth (PEM-CY), and Social Participation and Navigation (SPAN).

Read on for a Q&A with Dr. Bedell exploring his research, advice for future OTs, and what it was like to work with Dr. Hinojosa.

What inspired you to pursue the occupational therapy profession?

I always knew that I wanted to do something to help other people. I had experienced mental health issues in my high school years, but I was able to overcome them with the support of friends, family, and therapy. I knew I wanted to work with youth with mental health challenges, but I didn’t think that pursuing traditional talk therapy was “me.” Learning from my own experiences, I did some research and discovered the link between OT interventions and mental health. Although my interests ultimately changed as I went on in my field work, one of the nice things about OT is that there are often many available opportunities to explore during your career.

How do you think your education at NYU Steinhardt prepared you to become a leader in the field?

When I was a student, NYU was very pluralistic in terms of research design and purpose — I was able to take many research design courses which served me well in terms of my ability to conduct mixed-methods research in my career. It was emphasized that you have to know how to use the research methods that will best fit your research questions. My experience was also unique because I was an adjunct associate professor at NYU. I was teaching and getting other types of interdisciplinary research and educational opportunities that taught me to be a leader. All of my research and scholarship is interdisciplinary, and I attribute this to the opportunities made available to me at NYU.

You have worked extensively to develop measures and interventions to benefit those with traumatic and other acquired brain injuries. Can you tell us more?

I was awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship at Boston University that focused on children and youth with traumatic and other acquired brain injuries. When I say acquired brain injury, I mean acquired after birth — for example, strokes, brain tumors, seizure disorders, or brain infections. During this period, the international World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) was being developed, so a lot of relevant concepts were being discussed, particularly the concept of participation. Very generally, participation means involvement in life situations.

One of my first projects was to develop a survey to follow up with families on their children and adolescent youth discharged from inpatient rehabilitation. The survey included areas that weren’t necessarily being looked at, like their social environment, physical environment, attitudinal environment, and participation. The survey included measures that could be used on their own, such as the Child and Adolescent Scale of Participation (CASP), that is used with other populations and has been translated into multiple languages for use in many countries worldwide. Often one opportunity leads to another, so subsequently I was asked to participate in the development of additional participation measures (PEM-CY) and an app-based coaching intervention to promote social participation among teenagers with traumatic brain injuries called SPAN.

What do you consider your most significant accomplishment in the field?

My measurement and intervention work have had the most world-wide impact, but I feel like my most significant accomplishment was my outreach work and research related to HIV that I conducted during my time at NYU. The outreach focused on the needs of children and families affected by HIV/AIDS, and the research focused on how people with HIV/AIDS, particularly gay men, managed their daily lives and developed strategies based on the experience of living with their symptoms. There was a lot of stigma at the time and people were afraid to work with people with HIV. A lot of the time this fear comes from not knowing, so I think it’s a significant accomplishment that my work helped to raise awareness.

What was it like to work alongside Jim Hinojosa?

Jim really was my first true mentor in my career — I’m indebted to him. He allowed me to be me, had a great sense of humor, was very generous with his time, and offered me so many opportunities! He asked me to be part of a lot of interdisciplinary research collaborations with other faculty and saw something in me that gave me the confidence to be a part of those teams. He also encouraged me to enroll in NYU’s PhD program, encouraged me to publish early on before my PhD, and helped my research dissemination efforts, which exposed me to other local and national and opportunities.

What advice do you have for OTs beginning their careers?

It will all come together! It is important to be your authentic self and continue to develop knowledge and skills — a lifelong process — and seek out opportunities because it’s usually those opportunities that lead to other opportunities. There are so many options within the OT field. The key is to find a place where you feel valued and supported that does work that is important to you and those you serve.

Inclusion and the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics: A Conversation with Kristie Koenig and Janet Njelesani

Photo of Janet Njelesani and Kristie Koenig. Photo courtesy of Amy Kang.

Janet Njelesani (left) and Kristie Koenig (right). Photo courtesy of Amy Kang.

Kristie Koenig, chair of NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, and Janet Njelesani, an assistant professor in the department, recently spoke with The Gazelle about inclusion in the context of the Special Olympics World Games currently taking place in Abu Dhabi.

“Hopefully, through the Special Olympics and other national efforts that support inclusion, people living in the United Arab Emirates will get more chances to interact and build relationships with People of Determination,” Koenig said.

The two professors recently taught a J-Term course at NYU Abu Dhabi exploring the topic of inclusion both inside and outside the UAE.

“Our class was actually composed of 17 people from 17 different countries, and so each student was able to bring a unique perspective about their countries’ policies related to inclusion and people with disabilities,” Njelesani added.

Read the full Q&A with Koenig and Njelesani here.

Congratulations to 2019’s Frieda J. Behlen Scholarship Winners

Photo of award recipients sitting on steps in Washington Square Park.

Jillian Yoo (left) and Michelle Conley (right) are this year’s recipients of the Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarship.

The NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy is pleased to announce that Jillian Yoo and Michelle Conley are this year’s recipients of the Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarship. The award recognizes high-achieving students with a demonstrated commitment to contributing to the NYU OT community.

Congratulations to Jillian and Michelle!

Jillian Yoo is passionate about exploring the impact of spiritual engagement on health outcomes. After witnessing the resilience of communities that had previously faced significant trauma while attending the Occupational Therapy Department’s Global Context course in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jillian hopes to illuminate how spiritual practices can affect individuals’ routines, self-concepts, and overall well-being. She also participated in Steinhardt’s ASD Nest Program, working alongside educators from the United Arab Emirates and NYU faculty to explore the implications of inclusion for teachers and therapists. Jillian will graduate in 2020 and looks forward to helping individuals heal, recover, and regain their independence by providing compassionate occupational therapy services.

Michelle Conley came to NYU Steinhardt’s MS in Occupational Therapy program with a goal of using her past experience working as a communications professional to promote occupational therapy through advocacy and interdisciplinary collaboration. After attending a workshop on constructing homemade toys for children with disabilities, Michelle developed an interest in creating appealing accessible technologies. She now aspires to be a part of a research team that creates functional yet fashionable clothing and assistive devices for children and adults with disabilities. Michelle will graduate in 2020 and hopes to join an outpatient clinic where she can work with a multidisciplinary team on a range of complex cases.

The Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarship is an endowed fund created principally by gifts from alumni of NYU’s occupational therapy programs. Income generated by the endowment is awarded annually to second-year Professional Program students who demonstrate superior academic achievement as well as financial need.

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 her generosity, often opening her own pocketbook to enable deserving students to complete their studies.

The award takes the form of a tuition aid applied toward summer courses. With growth in the fund’s balance from new gifts, the amount distributed continues to increase annually.

Visit this site to contribute to the scholarship and other Department of Occupational Therapy funds.

 

The Human Anatomy Lecture and Lab Experience

In the distance: graduate occupational therapy students collaborating on a dissection assignment during Human Anatomy lab.

Human Anatomy, a lecture and lab course, is a hands-on learning experience that teaches graduate occupational therapy students about the skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems through interactions with human cadavers.

Taught by Offiong Aqua, MD, who holds a joint appointment as a clinical associate professor in NYU Steinhardt’s departments of Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Human Anatomy is a “rite of passage” for occupational therapy students.

Why is this a critical course for future OTs?

“You obviously cannot study health care without understanding the structures and working of the human body. It would be like a mechanic having no clue about cars and working on them anyway,” Aqua says.

Read the full article here.

Photo courtesy of Debra Weinstein.

 

Faculty Achievements: Grants and Publications Summer/Fall 2018

Patricia Gentile

  • James, M.K., Robitsek, J.R., Syed, M.S., Gentile, P.A., Ramos, M., Perez, F. (2018). Clinical and non-clinical factors that predict discharge disposition after a fall. Injury 49(5) pp. 975-982. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2018.02.014

Anita Perr

  • NYU Dental School Clinic Redesign to Improve Access and Services for Children and Adults with Disabilities.

Tsu-Hsin Howe

  • Book chapter published: Howe, T.-H. (2018). Oromotor Therapy. In J. Ongkasuwan & E. C. Chiou (Eds), Pediatric Dysphagia: Challenges and Controversies. New York, NY: Springer.     

Yael Goverover

  • Chiaravalloti, N. D., Goverover, Y., Costa, S. L., & DeLuca, J. (Accepted 7/30/2018). A Pilot Study Examining Speed of Processing Training (SPT) to Improve Processing Speed in persons with Multiple Sclerosis. Frontiers in Neurology (Manuscript ID: 389748).  
  • Stern, B., & Goverover, Y. (First Published June 3, 2018). An occupational perspective of everyday technology use for men with multiple sclerosis. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1177/0308022618777985
  • Akbar, N., Sandroff, B., Wylie, G., Strober, L.B., Smith, A., Goverover, Y., Motl, R.W., DeLuca, J., & Genova, H. Progressive resistance exercise training and changes in resting-state functional connectivity of the caudate in persons with multiple sclerosis and severe fatigue: A proof-of-concept study. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. (Accepted Feb 28, 2018, in press). doi: 10.1080/09602011.2018.1449758. PMID: 29618280
  • Stern, B. Z., Strober, L., DeLuca, J., & Goverover, Y. (2018). Subjective well-being differs with age in multiple sclerosis: A brief report. Rehabilitation Psychology, 63(3), 474-478. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rep0000220 PMID: 30113202
  • Goverover, Y., & DeLuca, J. (2018). Assessing everyday life functional activity using actual reality in persons with MS. Rehabilitation Psychology. 63(2), 276-285. doi: 10.1037/rep0000212. PubMed PMID: 29878832.
  • Goverover, Y., Sandroff, B., & DeLuca, J. (2018). Dual-task of fine motor skill and problem-solving in   individuals with multiple sclerosis: A pilot study.  Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 99(4):635-640. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.10.012. PMID: 29108966
  • Goverover Y., Chiaravalloti, N., O’Brien, A., & DeLuca, J. (2018). Evidenced based cognitive rehabilitation for persons with multiple sclerosis: An updated review of the literature from 2007-2016. Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 99(2), 390-407. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.07.021. PMID:28958607
  • Costa, S. L., DeLuca, J., Sandroff, B. M., Goverover, Y., & Chiaravalloti, N. D. (2018). The role of demographic and clinical factors in cognitive functioning of persons with relapsing-remitting and progressive multiple sclerosis. Journal of International Neuropsychology Society, 24(2), 139-146. doi: 10.1017/S1355617717000777. PMID: 28830576
  • Kalina, J., Hinojosa, J., Strober, L., Bacon, J., Donnelly, S., & Goverover, Y. (2018). A randomized controlled trial to improve self-efficacy in persons with Multiple Sclerosis: The Community Reintegration for Socially Isolated Patients (CRISP) program. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 72, 7205205030p1-

Janet Njelesani

  • Njelesani J., Siegel, J., & Ullrich, E.  (2018). Realization of the rights of persons with disabilities in Rwanda. PLOS One, 13(5), e0196347. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0196347
  • Njelesani J., & Njelesani, D. (2018). Addressing HIV/AIDS in school in Zambia through traditional games. AIDS Care, 1-3. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2018.1476660
  • Njelesani J., Hashemi, G., Cameron, C., Cameron, D., Richard, D., & Parnes, P. (2018). From the day they are born: A qualitative study exploring violence against children with disabilities in West Africa. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 153. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5057-x
  • Dean L., Mulamba, C.,  Njelesani J., Mbabazi, P. & Bates I. (2018). Establishing an international laboratory network for neglected tropical diseases: Understanding existing capacity in five WHO regions. F1000Research, 7, 1464. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.16196.1
  • Co-Applicant: Advancing inclusion of children with disabilities in the UAE. NYU Abu Dhabi Institute. $15,000.
  • Principal Investigator: Generating and preventing violence: Schools’ responses to school violence against students with disabilities in Zambia.National Academy of Education (NAEd)/ Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship. $70,000.

Kristie Patten Koenig

  • Patten Koenig, K. (in press). A strength based frame of reference for autistic individuals. In P. Kramer, J. Hinojosa & T. Howe (Eds.). Frames of reference for pediatric occupational therapy (4th edition).
  • Patten Koenig, K. & Shore, S. (2018). Self-determination and a shift to a strengths based model. In R. Watling & S. Spitzer (Eds.), Autism: A    Comprehensive Occupational Therapy Approach, 4th edition, Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.
Ongoing Awards:
  • Co-Principal Investigator: “IDEAS: Inventing, Designing and Engineering on the Autism Spectrum”. (Principal Investigator Wendy Martin, PhD). National Science Foundation (NSF#1614436). Funded for 9/16 to 8/19. $300,734 subaward of $1,193,170 total award.
  • Principal Investigator: “NYU ASD Nest Support Project.” NYC Department of Education.  7/1/18-6/30/19. $1,600,000
New Awards:
  • Principal Investigator: “ASD Nest supports, consultation, and professional development.” Norwalk Public School District. 3/1/18 – 6/30/19. $120,059
  • Principal Investigator: “Ghanaian Institute for the Future of Teaching and Education (GIFTED) Women’s Fellowship Program- Phase III”. (Co-Investigator Rose Vukovic, Ph.D.). Banco Santander.  Funded for 1/19 to 12/21. $418,000

Class Notes Summer/Fall 2018

Patricia West (MA, 2000) is currently living in Southern California. She obtained her specialty certification from AOTA in feeding, eating, and swallowing about 2 years ago, with focus on the pediatric population.

Valerie Grinman (MS, 2017) has been working at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital since March 2017, primarily in acute stroke rehab. She recently became a Certified Brain Injury Specialist and is also part of a hospital-wide interdisciplinary team called the Safety Coach Program, helping to prevent workplace injuries in patients and staff.

Diane Dirette (MA ’93, PhD ’97) and Sharon Gutman (PhD ’98) are the new co-editors of the 8th edition of Occupational Therapy for Physical Dysfunction formally edited by Catherine Trombly and Mary Radomski. The new edition is scheduled to be published in 2020.

Michelle Rosenberg (MS, 2013) recently opened up a private practice in Ontario, Canada called “OT for Wellness”. She helps educate fellow occupational therapy practitioners in holistic approaches to practice, including comprehensive Yoga Instructor Certification Courses for OTs. She can be reached at MLR5085@gmail.com.

Marlene Handler, MS, OTR/L (MS, 2016) currently works in a D75 high school called the Brooklyn Transition Center, where the curriculum is designed with a focus toward basic vocational training in areas such as cooking, printing, and gardening, as well as community service. Marlene loves to integrate mindfulness and wellness strategies into her personal practice with her students to help them navigate everyday stressors.

Rick Frank (MA, 1988) has been doing OT for over 10 years part time in an outpatient rehab clinic, as part of a chronic pain management program. As part of that, he is excited to be doing some therapy sessions in a warm water pool, as well as teaching an aquatic yoga class. For the past two years he has been organizing and teaching an adaptive yoga class for people with disabilities.

Kelly Scanlon (MS, 2016) is currently a hand therapist who moved from NYC to Chicago in Jan 2018. She now works at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (Ranked 4th in US Orthopaedics). Kelly and her hand therapy colleagues will be hosting a CUE opportunity along side top ranked hand surgeons in the Nov 2018 Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Elbow to Hand Symposium: Hand to Elbow Fractures, a Case-Based Approach to Problem Solving A 1-½ day course reviewing anatomy, surgical interventions, and treatment for fractures of the elbow, wrist, and hand.

Robbie Levy (MA, 1982) is excited to share that her business Dynamic Kids, where she is Founder and Executive Director, is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary working with the children and their families in Westchester County. NY. In addition, Robbie was presented with Westchester Magazine’s 2018 Small Business Award in a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza in White Plains on September 13, 2018.

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