Through recent clinical experiences, Paige Knowlson (Occupational Therapy Trainee), observed that while clinically substantiated and user-friendly screeners existed for Speech Therapy, the equivalent was not currently readily available for Occupational Therapy (OT). A screener can be used by health and education professionals to determine whether clients, aged 18 months to six years, would benefit from OT therapy services. The ideal screener is basic enough to be used across various disciplines, but targets the developmental milestones appropriate to determining if performance deficits exist within the OT scope of practice. A screener was developed and pilot tested across disciplines to determine accuracy results and ease of use. The screener was compiled in 6 month increments, and packaged with all necessary testing items. It was distributed to three speech therapists, who utilized the testing measure across three age ranges. The screeners found it to be understandable, user friendly, and sufficient in determining the need for further OT evaluation. This screening tool is continuing to be developed.
Rhonda Wilder, Nursing Trainee, devoted her leadership project to developing an Equine Assisted Therapy Resource Guide. Within the guide, she listed certified equine assisted therapy programs in Virginia, their target audience, contact information, cost, and description of services. This guide can be found here and on our resource page. Equine assisted therapy is a treatment that includes equine activities and/or an equine environment to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth in people.
For her leadership project, Andreina Andueza-Croce (Physical Therapy Trainee) explored the need for community based fitness programs for teens and young adults with disabilities to address decreased fitness levels and to promote healthy lifestyles. The Tuckahoe YMCA addressed this need by creating a Pilot Fitness Program for Teens with Aspergers. The main objectives of the fitness program were that the teens would learn fitness terms and concepts, gym etiquette, and would demonstrate general improvement in fitness. The fitness program was held twice a week for eight weeks total; there were eight teens (ages 14-18) and five coaches in the program, including Andriena. As a coach, Andreina helped the teens gain independence with the fitness machines and provided a fun and safe environment to encourage the teens to continue participating in physical activity. At the end of the eight weeks, post-fitness measures were collected and the teens demonstrated improvements in each of the fitness activities. Not only did the teens show improvements in fitness levels, but the program also fostered friendships and socialization among the teens.