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.


January 2017 Therapy Ed NBCOT Test Prep Course

The NYU Department of Occupational Therapy is pleased to announce that it will once again be hosting its Annual January NBCOT Exam Prep course offered by Therapy Ed. The two-day course will be held at the University on Wednesday, January 18th and Thursday, January 19th, 2017. NYU OT students are eligible for a $30 course tuition discount. To register, please follow the instructions on the NYU OT registration form.

Please visit http://www.therapyed.com/nbcot.htm for additional course information.


AOTF St. Catherine’s Challenge Annual Kickball Tournament and Picnic Fundraiser

On September 16, 2016 over twenty faculty, staff, and students of the Occupational Therapy department participated in the annual AOTF St. Catherine’s Challenge by holding a Kickball Tournament in the East River Park.

The challenge is a student-led initiative to support the profession of occupational therapy by raising funds for research grants provided by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. It helps increase awareness of occupational therapy research that guides practice, and challenges OT students across the country to engage their communities and join together in support of the AOTF’s mission.

A great day was had by all as participants enjoyed a picnic lunch and friendly kickball competition. The event raised over $730 this year (a 60% increase from 2015!) and the department looks forward to holding the event again in 2017.


Department Chair Kristie Patten Koenig Collaborates on ‘Life Animated’ Film Companion Guide for Educators

This fall, Occupational Therapy Department Chair and Associate Professor Kristie Patten Koenig took part in creating the educational guide for the new documentary film Life Animated, directed by academy award winner Roger Ross Williams.

The film follows the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who as a thriving three-year-old suddenly and inexplicably became silent. For years Owen was unable to connect with others, and could not convey his thoughts, feelings, or needs. It was only through repeated viewings of classic animated Disney films like The Little Mermaid and The Lion King that Owen was able to find useful tools to help him understand complex social cues. The film interweaves animated sequences from the Disney films with scenes from Owen’s life, and shows how the characters allowed him to understand his feelings and to interpret reality.

Koenig’s role was to put together a group of people including NYU faculty, ASD Nest Support Project participators, and self-advocates with autism along with Ron and Cornelia Suskind (Owen’s parents) to develop a guide that can be used by educators when viewing the film. The guide provides tips for leading conversations on autism spectrum disorder, and is available for download. Life Animated won Best US Documentary at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and is currently showing at film festivals across the U.S. and Europe.


Now Accepting Nominations for the 1st Annual Jim Hinojosa Alumni Award

In honor of Dr. Jim Hinojosa’s immense contributions to the NYU Department of Occupational Therapy and to the OT profession as a whole, we are pleased to announce 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.  The award will be presented at the Department’s Alumni Reception at the annual AOTA Conference. Recipients will receive $500 and will be featured in the Department’s Blog/Newsletter.

We are pleased to announce that the nomination period for the 2017 Jim Hinojosa Alumni Award has opened.  Nominations are open to all NYU OT Alumni. Self Nominations are permitted.  Nominees must have made significant contributions to the profession as demonstrated by advocacy, leadership, generosity, scholarship and mentorship.

Nominations are open through January 15, 2017.

Please follow this link to the application:

Jim Hinojosa Alumni Award Application

Or copy and paste the URL below into your internet browser:


OT Adjunct Professor Advises on New Film ‘Cardboard Boxer’

Adjunct professor in the Occupational Therapy department and ’00 graduate of NYU Steinhardt’s Occupational Therapy Post-Professional Program Michael Tranquilli recently served as an OT consultant on the movie Cardboard Boxer (2016), with actor Boyd Holbrook (Narcos, Gone Girl). Tranquilli spent over three weeks working with Holbrook on the streets of New York City in a wheelchair borrowed from the department, training and educating him on how to manually propel curb cuts, sidewalks, ramps, potholes, and maneuver transferring to multiple surfaces in preparation for Holbrook’s role in the film, where he portrays a bilateral lower extremity amputee war veteran.

This is the second film Tranquilli, who is also a private practice occupational therapist, has consulted on and the second time he has worked with Holbrook. The first film, Little Accidents (2014), portrayed Holbrook as a stroke victim in a West Virginia mining town. For that project, Tranquilli educated Holbrook in the complex array of deficits and behavioral characteristics associated with neurologic injuries such as CVA, hypoxia, aphasia, and the psychosocial aspects present with victims of stroke. Through an activity analysis of each of the characters’ scenes, he designed an occupational profile and a progressive framework for cognitive, motor, and speech patterns, that helped to guide the actor’s conceptualization of each scene.

Cardboard Boxer follows Willie (Thomas Haden Church), a homeless man living on LA’s skid row who is coerced by a group of rich teenagers with a video camera to fight others on the street for money. His solace from the violence is reading the words of a diary he finds, written by a young girl who is grieving the loss of her mother. Pinky (Boyd Holbrook) helps Willie decipher the cursive script that the diary is scrawled in. Together they share in the pain of her words, and are moved by her plight so much that they attempt to find her. The film also stars Terrence Howard (Empire, Crash) and is currently playing (as of 9/16/16) at Village East Cinema (181-189 2nd Ave. NY, NY 10003).


Summer 2016 Class Notes

Tracey Bates (MS ’09) works in the outpatient center at The George Washington University Hospital in Washington D.C., focusing on oncology (breast, head, and neck) Lymphedema and implementing the head and neck Lymphedema program for the hospital.


Robert M. Bieber (MA ’72) Retired in 2015 as a risk manager, and is presently working as a personal trainer.


Rhoda Scherer Cohen (BS ’49, MA ’76) worked as an OT throughout her whole career—and is now working with them since having developed CIDP and having a shoulder recently replaced. She now shares with her OT how she used to practice in her early career, and is learning how they do it now.

Patrick Dolan (MA ’96) is currently work at Albany Memorial Hand Center.

Per Erik Edlund (MA ’82) has recently retired from Landvetter Airport in Sweden as Project Director and Business Controller.

Rita Fleming-Castaldy (PhD ’08) has been appointed Editor-in-Chief of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s centennial history project called “OT Archive”.  Dr. Fleming-Castaldy is responsible for the curation, development, and review of historical materials which will commemorate occupational therapy’s first 100 years. She is working with an editorial board comprised of leaders in the field (including Dr. Jim Hinojosa) to identify people and events which have significantly influenced the profession to be highlighted during the AOTA’s centennial celebration in 2017.

Shirin Golshani (MS ’14) is one of the founding leaders and volunteer VP in charge of Clinics of a non-profit organization called Angel City Sports, where sports programming and competition is put on for children and adults with physical disabilities including amputees. She is also currently a full-time school-based OT for Los Angeles Unified School District going into year three.

Renee Elizabeth Keny (George) (MA ’06) has spent the past 10 years since graduation on a journey from the east coast to the mid-west in Chicago, helping students with special needs in clinics, homes, and schools. As she looks forward to the next 10 years, she’s so happy to say that she ran into former Steinhardt professors at the AOTA conference in Chicago this year (see pic)!

Renee Keny (MA 06′) with former NYU OT professors at the 2016 AOTA Conference

Andrea Krauss (BS ’79) has been in academia since 1990, starting her teaching career at Touro College. She is currently the Director of the OT Program at York College CUNY. In addition, Andrea maintains a small private practice providing consultation to families that have children with behavioral issues secondary to SID, ADHD and autism.

Robbie Levy (MA ’82) has moved her private practice, Dynamic Kids Inc., to a larger space in Hartsdale, NY further exemplifying her long term commitment to the local community. The office now has a dedicated EI treatment space, two sensory gyms, an enhanced fine motor room and private office space. Besides providing on site mentorship, Robbie continues to be a national speaker for PESI Education and local and regional Child Development organizations.

Karen Ling (MS ’14) Started a shop named Inclusive Greetings with her husband, an MD. The greeting cards bring awareness to disability inclusion, diversity and equality with a goal is to initiate conversations, connect, and bridge the gap between people with different backgrounds.

Jeannine Giustino Nonaillada (MA ‘15) defended her dissertation ‘Educating Healthcare Providers and Hospital Staff on Geriatrics and Shared Decision-Making: Evaluation of an Online Program’ and graduated with her PhD in Social Work with a concentration in gerontology from Fordham University this May 2016.

Hermine D. Plotnick (MA ’63) spent 37 years working in the NYS Office of Mental Health, most of that time at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center beginning as a staff occupational therapist, and then, Unit Chief, with part time adjunct positions at Columbia University. She is also an associate professor and founding program director of the OT programs at York, LaGuardia Community College and NY Institute of Technology.

Linda Rowe (MA ’84) is currently the owner of Support By Design OT, SLP, PT, PLLC Pediatric Therapy practice.

Natasha R. Sexius (MS ’07) currently runs a private practice for adults and pediatrics in Trinidad, West Indies. She is also part of a team starting up the first OT master’s program at The University of the Southern Caribbean in Trinidad commencing September 5, 2016.

Jessica Sibley (MS ’11) recently began working heavily with the autistic and/or non speaking community using Rapid Prompting Method to help students learn to spell to communicate on stencil boards. She has also become more heavily focused on Motor learning and skill acquisition for clients, and has recently started her own private practice, Minds in Motion OT.

Lindsey Vestal (MS ’11) is the owner of the Functional Pelvis, practice specializing in pelvic floor therapy “house calls”, a convenient, comfortable, and holistic operation for clients that incorporates their environment.  Lindsey has two children Avery, 4 and Liam, 2.