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.

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.

 

NYU OT at the 2018 AOTA Conference

NYU OT Students at AOTA Conference

This year NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy students, faculty, and staff headed to Salt Lake City, Utah April 19-22 for the annual American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) conference.

The theme for last year’s conference focused on the History of OT during its 100-year celebration, and this year’s conference focused on the future of the OT profession. In support of this year’s theme, AOTA Vice President Shawn Phipps led a session entitled, “Vision 2025.” During this session, participants learned ways the OT community can work together to position the profession for continued growth in the upcoming years.

Faculty at the NYU OT Booth

For the fourth year in a row, NYU Steinhardt OT had a booth in the Expo. Alumni and current students stopped by to say hello, reconnect with the department, and show their NYU OT pride by wearing our popular NYU OT Alumni, Supporter, and Students badges.

The booth also provided an opportunity for prospective students to learn more about the post-professional MA, OTD, and PhD programs, as well as the new online OTD program. Faculty members and staff were on hand to answer questions about the curriculum, admissions requirements, and our remuneration program.

NYU OT Students and Faculty Gathered at AOTA Conference

One of the highlights: Our very own Alison Rangel-Padilla (Fieldwork Coordinator) led a Salsa Dance Break! This well-attended and fun event had conference participants dropping their bags and moving their bodies to salsa, merengue, and samba music on the conference floor.

 

 

 

 


NYU Steinhardt OT Faculty, Staff, and Student Participation:

 

Kristie Patten Koenig, Associate Professor

-Short Course 122 – Senses & Sensibilities: Experiencing, Recognizing, and Providing Support for Sensory Issues from Autistic and Practitioner Viewpoint (With Stephen Shore Ed.D., Adelphi University)

Plenary: Autistic Individuals as Equal Partners in Occupational Therapy Research

 

Yael Goverover. Associate Professor

-Research 2009 – My Way of Staying Connected”?: The Lived Experience of Adults With Multiple Sclerosis as Everyday Technology Users

-Abstract Synopsis: This constructivist grounded theory study examined the lived experience of adults with multiple sclerosis as everyday technology users. Technology is experienced as a means of fostering reciprocal connections to self and others within a context of connection to the world.

Contributing Authors: Batsheva Becher; Ilana Goss; Stephanie Tufano; Yael Goverover, PhD, OTR/L

-Short Course 405 – Everyday technology for all? Limitations and opportunities in assessment and treatment for adults with neurological disorders. Rehabilitation, Disability, & Participation. With additional speakers Brocha Z. Stern, MOT, OTR/L, CHT, New York University; Joan Toglia, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Mercy College

Tsu-Hsin Howe:

-CY 3009 – Life Beyond School: Developing a Functional Life Skills Intervention To Promote School-to-Work Transition for Students With Developmental Disabilities with speakers Chia-Yang Chiang, M.A., OTR/L, New York City Department of Education

-Research 1027 – Effectiveness of Self-Determination Programs in Promoting Secondary Transition for Young Adults With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities with speaker Chia-Yang Chiang, M.A., OTR/L, New York City Department of Education

-Research 4012 – Parental Feeding Practice and Perceptions of Feeding Issues of Their Children With History of Prematurity in the First 2 Years of Life

 

Patricia Gentile:

-RDP 1001 – Occupational Therapy in the Perioperative Surgical Home, Part of Poster Session #1 Rehabilitation, Disability, & Participation

 

Tracy Chippendale:
-Research 3012 – Knowledge, Behavioral Practices, and Experiences of Outdoor Fallers: Considerations for Prevention Programs

 

Allison Rangel, Fieldwork Coordinator:

-Institute 025 – (AOTA) Becoming an Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, with additional speakers Jamie Geraci, MS, OTR/L, Stony Brook University; Jeanette Koski, OTD, OTR/L, AFWC, The University of Utah; Jaynee Meyer, OTD, OTR/L, University of Southern California

 

Students:

Sandra Duarte
-GP 8006 – Cultural Competence in Occupational Therapy: Putting Cultural Sensitivity To WorkWith additional speaker Brigitte Desport

Chia-Yang Chiang, M.A., OTR/L, New York City Department of Education
CY 3009 – Life Beyond School: Developing a Functional Life Skills Intervention To Promote School-to-Work Transition for Students With Developmental Disabilities with Tsu-Hsin Howe
-Research 1027 – Effectiveness of Self-Determination Programs in Promoting Secondary Transition for Young Adults With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities with Tsu-Hsin Howe

Margaret Waskiewicz:
-RDP 2006 – Back to Basics: Enhancing Our Practice Through a Return to Occupation
Part of Poster Session with Kellianne Arnella and Nandita Singh, MPH, OTR/L; and
Steve Vanlew
-RDP 7015 – Tying It All Together: Mindfulness-Based Interventions for People With Parkinson’s Disease

Brocha Stern

-Short Course 405 – Everyday technology for all? Limitations and opportunities in assessment and treatment for adults with neurological disorders with Yael Goverover; Joan Toglia
-Short Course 245 – (SIS) RDSIS Hand Subsection Annual Program – Health Promotion and Self-Management Support in Hand Therapy – Bridging Chronic and Acute Care with additonal speaker Brian Connors
-RDP 3001 – So You Want To Be a Hand Therapist? Strategies for Authentic Specialization
-Research 2009 – My Way of Staying Connected”?: The Lived Experience of Adults With Multiple Sclerosis as Everyday Technology Users with additional speakers Samantha Gelon and Kathryn Ross
-Short Course 412 – Update on Upper-Extremity Cumulative Trauma Disorders: Physiological, Psychosocial, and Ecological Perspectives

Chang Dae Lee
-Research 5002 – Korean Upper-Extremity Performance Test for the Elderly: Validity and Reliability
-Research 8003 – Korean Upper-Extremity Performance Test for the Elderly: Normative Data and Characteristics of Upper-Extremity Function of Adults and Elderly

Monica Puglisi, MS, OTR/L, New York City Department of Education
-CY 3001 – Common Core Writing Standards and Alignment With Typical Childhood Development in Elementary School: A Scoping Review with Kristie Koenig, additional Speaker

2018 Frieda J. Behlen Scholarship Winners

Photo of Francine Cacciola and Monika DworakowskiThe NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 Frieda J. Behlen Occupational Therapy Scholarships. This year’s awardees are Francine Cacciola and Monika Dworakowski.

Francine Cacciola graduated from NYU Steinhardt in 2016 with a degree in Applied Psychology, and has returned to complete her masters in Occupational Therapy. Francine has a background working with children with special needs, and though she one day hoped to open her own school—she now sees the importance of making her holistic approach to learning available to all students and aspires to work as a practicing OT in a public school setting. There she hopes to help cater to all learning styles, sensory needs, and foster empowerment, growth, and creativity with a focus on children’s strengths. She is also a certified yoga teacher! Francine will graduate in 2019.

Monika Dworakowski completed her B.A. at Boston College in Psychology and Hispanic Studies. Her research interests within the field of OT include neuroscience, geriatrics, and anatomy. Monika participated in a summer research project that was a scoping study about how women with disabilities are treated by their partners in Sierra Leone, as well as a current project relating to the effectiveness of cognitive stimulation therapy for those with mild to moderate dementia. She also worked for the GIFTED Women’s Fellowship Program in the summer of 2017. Monika is also a student ambassador, helping welcome new OT students as they begin their journey at NYU. Upon graduation, she hopes to work in a setting with a geriatric population, with a focus on patients with dementia. Monika will graduate in 2019.

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/.

2nd Annual Jim Hinojosa Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Photo of Dr. Paula KramerWe are pleased to announce the recipient of the second annual Jim Hinojosa Alumni Award, Dr. Paula Kramer. The award, named in honor Dr. Jim Hinojosa’s immense contributions to the NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy and to the OT profession as a whole, seeks to recognize an outstanding NYU OT alumni who has made significant contributions to the profession.

Dr. Kramer is a three time graduate of NYU, and has written or co-authored 9 books and over 100 book chapters. Her focus is the translation of theory into practice, clearly describing the process and defining the concepts that are foundational to theory development. Together with Dr. Jim Hinojosa, she translates the abstract aspects of theory into a clear and understandable format. As a scholar, she has influenced practice by detailing how practitioners use the profession’s applied body of knowledge to provide theoretically based practice. Dr. Kramer was also named one of AOTA’s 100 Most Influential People in Occupational Therapy. Read on to learn more about Dr. Kramer, what brought her to the profession, and what she sees for the future of OT.

 

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

I had bad scoliosis when I was younger and surgery was recommended.  At that time, the process required an extended hospital stay with limited movement, including staying in bed.  My doctor recommended occupational therapy.  My occupational therapist taught me how to perform most ADL skills with my limited movement, but more importantly, she taught me that I was still a productive, functional person even with these limitations.  I learned that the limitations did not define me, I defined me.  That was an amazing gift. That made me love occupational therapy, and I wanted to become an occupational therapist ever since.

 

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

Being educated by leaders helps you to become a leader. I have three degrees from NYU, all in OT (which I would not necessarily recommend, but it did work for me). My baccalaureate gave me the basics that I needed to start my career.  My masters allowed me to grow and explore a more specified area of practice, working with children, understanding learning disabilities. And it taught me the critical importance of theory. Taking courses across campus in different departments was helpful and beginning to work with Anne Cronin Mosey was invaluable.  Throughout my doctorate, I was constantly encouraged to grow and stretch, and see what could be instead of what was. This is the essence of leadership, seeing future possibilities and being willing to grow to get there.

 

You have worked extensively in changing policy and education in the OT field, can you tell us a little about your accomplishments there?

I started my service to the profession locally with the Metropolitan New York District and NYSOTA.  I soon became involved with the Accreditation Council, I was interested in how education programs were developed and regulated. Around 1990, I was honored to Chair the new revision of the educational essentials now called the Standards. It was the first set of Standards developed independently by occupational therapists without the involvement of the Council for Allied Health Education and the American Medical Association.  I shocked to discover that the term “occupation” was not in our educational standards and that there was limited mention of theory.  I was proud to have championed the inclusion of both in the 1991 Standards.

 

Can you tell us about your writing and co-authoring of OT literature with Jim Hinojosa?

Jim and I have a fantastic relationship. He has been one of the most important people in my professional life, as well as being a great friend. Professionally, it is rather a co-mentorship.  He makes me think differently.  I can express myself and what I think about the profession or the topic we are working on, and he will give me his perceptions and together we can come to a consensus of what we want to put forward. He is one of those people that make you stretch and grow. I am very proud of all of the work we have done together, and I have enjoyed the collaboration so much.

 

What do you see for the future of the OT profession? What do you hope to accomplish in the future with your work?

I think the future of the profession is bright.  We have many opportunities as long as we keep focusing on how we change the functional performance of our clients.  We are finally becoming better known, but still have a ways to go, and it is important that we continue to promote the profession aggressively. I think the profession is somewhat at a crossroads with the decision to move to a doctoral level.  Personally, while I am aware of the potential drawbacks, I think we have to make the jump.  Our world recognizes education and titles, and to have our colleagues in physical therapy, at the doctoral level without having our profession at that level will put us at a disadvantage in the clinical world.  My personal goals are more in the area of continuing to write to improve areas of practice and knowledge especially in pediatrics and the importance of theory related to occupation.

NYU OT Students Study Autism in London

This January professor Kristie Patten Koenig and adjunct professor Stephen Shore took OT students to London for the Steinhardt Global course United Photo of OT StudentsKingdom: Comparative Perspectives on Autism and Well-Being. The course examined literature and research findings for evidence that supports treatment of children and youth with autism in a variety of settings.  Students’ clinical and educational experiences were used as a basis to examine the efficacy and effectiveness of intervention through a strength based lens. Advances in strength based approaches including health and education were examined and a comparative analyses conducted.

We spoke with Francine Cacciola, a current MS in OT student, about her experience during the London class, what brought her to NYU OT, and how she sees herself as a future practitioner.

Photo of Francine CacciolaWhat made you want to participate in this global class, and what was your favorite part about the experience?

One of my greatest academic interests has always been working with children with autism. I have taken many courses and worked with many children on the spectrum, so when I learned about the course being offered in London I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about autism from a new perspective.

Aside from the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of London, the course offered so many diverse opportunities to learn from Kristie Koenig, professor and chair of NYU’s OT department, and Stephen Shore, professor at Adelphi University and autism self advocate, as well as other autism self advocates, researchers, and professionals in the field. Unlike classes that rely heavily on reading and lectures, this course was interactive and provided first hand experiences from those living with autism and working with autistic individuals. I especially loved the interdisciplinary approach that the course encompassed. The students represented over 10 different programs from NYU and learning alongside students from other related programs fostered collaboration of ideas, experiences, and perspectives.

How did your time in London influence your view of the current system of working with ASD individuals in the US?

I have always had an interest in working in the school system, so it was inspiring to see the ways in which London is advanced in focusing on strengths in autistic individuals, a focus that I will incorporate into my practice and encourage others to do as well. We had the opportunity to visit the SPA School, a specialized school for autistic children. The school was equipped with full size trampolines in the gymnasium to provide the children with vestibular input, a greenhouse for children participate in horticulture, and art, music, and drama programs to foster creativity and promote expression and socialization. The school also had a coffee shop next door in which all of the students worked shifts during school hours to learn life skills. The SPA school was an encompassment of what I feel all schools should be offering to students on the spectrum or not. As a future occupational therapist I plan to incorporate aspects of the SPA School and what I have learned through the course in London into my practice working with children in schools.

Why do you think viewing autism through a strength based lens is the most effective form of intervention?

One theme that Kristie and Stephen strongly emphasized throughout the course is the fact that we don’t build a life doing things we are bad at. So why should we, as professionals, push for working on things that autistic people are bad at, especially when each individual has so many strengths to focus on. Instead of working solely on remediating weaknesses, we should be working with autistic individuals on creating a life based on their strengths.

What activity during the time in London opened your eyes most?

It is hard to pick one experience that impacted me the most during the course in London because each day was so memorable. One particular experience that truly resonated with me was the morning that we had the producers, cast, and writers of children’s show Pablo, come speak to us.

Pablo is a children’s show featuring an autistic child as the main character who creates animal friends with his magic crayons which represent different characteristics of autism. It was so amazing to hear from the autistic writers and actors themselves about their process of creating the episodes and generating ideas based off of their own life experiences. Most of the media portrayals of autism in the US are written and acted by individuals who are not autistic, so hearing the raw, honest process that goes into creating Pablo opened my eyes to how the US should be portraying autism.