AOTA 2019 Conference

As the largest gathering of occupational therapy professionals in the world, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) held its annual conference April 4 through 7 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The 2019 conference featured over 1,400 educational and poster sessions, exceptional speakers, and an Expo Hall filled with the latest products and opportunities for networking.
The University’s Occupational Therapy (OT) program faculty and students attended the conference and presented several posters and sessions:
  • Ruth S. Farber, PhD, associate professor; Lauren Sponseller, OTD, PhD, chair of the OT Department and director of the Master’s program in OT; Caitlyn Foy, DOT, MOTR/L, director of the OT Doctoral (OTD) program and assistant professor: Reframing Women’s Health and Wellness in OT: For Mothers in Both Typical and Challenging Situations 
  • Caitlyn Foy, DOT, MOTR/L; Lauren Sponseller, OTD, PhD: Incorporating Maternal Support into OT Practice
  • Lauren Sponseller, OTD, PhD; Caitlyn Foy, DOT, MOTR/L; Tabatha Rudzinski, MSOT ‘18; and Leah Loreman, MSOT ’18:Teaching the Importance of Tummy Time: A Collaboration Between Lactation Consultants and OTs
  • Andrea Tyszka, MS, OTR/L, SIPT, associate professor;  Fern Silverman, EdD, OTR/L, assistant director of OTD; Anna Grasso, MSOT, assistant professor; Josie Bachman, MSOT ’18; Rebecca Barrow, MSOT ’18; Megan Dunn, MSOT’18; Amber Kilmer, MSOT ‘18: Transferring Qualitative Results to Expand Community Participation for Individuals with Sensory Processing Challenges in Museum Settings
  • Andrea Tyszka, MS, OTR/L, SIPT; Fern Silverman, EdD, OTR/L; Gina Pellechio ‘19OT; Elizabeth Forcellini ‘19OT;  and Jennifer Jamieson ‘19OT: Exploring OT’s Role in the Coming Out Process for Non-Heterosexual Millennials
  • Andrea Carr Tyszka, MS, OTR/L, SIPT and Ruth S. Farber, PhD: Exploring Self-Reported Health-Related Quality of Life in Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis
  • Anna Grasso, MSOT: Development of an Animal-Assisted Intervention Course: The Importance of Interprofessional Learning Opportunities  
Since April is OT month, as part of the celebration, the University’s Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) officers also attended AOTA. At the student delegates meeting on April 3, SOTA representatives from each OT school across the country learned more about advocacy for the profession, leadership, and the importance of interprofessional collaboration.

During the conference, the students attended short courses on topics that relate to OT such as promoting workplace wellness, concussions across the lifespan, and using yoga for individuals with neurological insults – acquired brain injury that occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. The conference also gave the officers a chance to network with various companies and interact with new technologies in the profession, like the adaptive Xbox controller – which is designed to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility. 

In mid-April, SOTA will hold a larger meeting with their class to discuss the conference and talk about the various sessions they attended and how they can best utilize the information gathered Toward the end of the month, they will hold a tabling event in support of MuckFest - the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society run to raise money to achieve a multiple sclerosis-free world. While tabling, the students will sell baked goods, give out MS fact sheets, and ask for donations to the Salus Salamander MuckFest team.