Celebrating 100 Years of Occupational Therapy in Philadelphia

Salus AOTAThe American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Annual Conference and Centennial Celebration was a hometown affair, with all Salus University Occupational Therapy (OT) department faculty and more than 60 students attending from March 30 through April 2 in Philadelphia. This year’s event was special, as it marked the 100th anniversary of the profession.

“It was wonderful to be able to look back on our profession’s rich past to motivate us to move forward in the ever-changing healthcare arena,” said Brianna Brim, MOT, OTR/L, CPAM, Salus OT instructor and fieldwork coordinator. “It is incredibly powerful to be sitting in a room with 13,000 other people who all have the same goal as you – increasing independence and engagement for others.”

As the largest meeting of OTs in the country, and with the local connection, this year’s AOTA conference had more students in attendance than ever —plus, the University’s Student Knowledge Bowl team finished in the top five.

Salus OT - AOTA
L-R: Brian Mick, Katie Stone, Zach Saunders,
Jenna Napier, and Janelle Hottel, OT Class of 2017

“The AOTA conference is a great chance to network, see the latest innovations in OT practice, and keep a pulse on new trends and issues facing our profession,” Ms. Brim said. “As a University, representation at the AOTA conference is important to ensure we continually innovate our program to give our students cutting edge education.”

And, represent they did. The University’s OT faculty presented five posters, two short courses and two pre-conference institutes, which are additional workshops of six hours or more for attendees that take place before the conference opens. Just a few of the broad topics faculty covered included inclusive programming and design at museums; interprofessional work with lactation consultants to improve outcomes for nursing mothers; the intervention treatment model in a private school setting; and Zika virus and microcephaly.

Salus University OT clinical instructor Dawn Ciccarone, MS, OTR/L, CLVT, collaborated on a pre-conference institute with the University’s Blindness and Low Vision faculty, as well as Stephen G. Whittaker, PhD, OTR/L, CLVT, FAAO, an occupational and certified low vision therapist at Moss Rehabilitation Hospital. The well-received event covered evaluation and treatment techniques for people with visual field loss. Taking place at The Eye Institute on March 29, the full class capped out at 20 OTs, who participated in both a lecture and subsequent lab with hands-on practice of evaluation techniques.

Salus OT - AOTA
Outside of the educational component, Salus also hosted an alumni reception attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni, and prominent OTs and fieldwork educators. Due to the proximity of the conference to campus, Ms. Brim said, many members of Salus leadership were able to attend AOTA. “We were so honored that they were there,” she said.