Gannon Occupational Therapists Celebrate the 100th Birthday of Their Profession

Posted: April 4, 2017


The profession of occupational therapy (OT) is turning 100-years-old this year and the student occupational therapists at Gannon University are celebrating.

Gannon's OT students and their faculty in Erie, Pennsylvania and Ruskin, Florida have scheduled an impressive array of events to mark the occasion, including a 100th birthday party that will be a highlight of National OT Month.

The party, scheduled for Tuesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. in the Yehl Room of the Waldron Campus Center, 124 W. Seventh St., is sponsored by Gannon's OT department and District 7 of the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association (POTA). Highlights of the party include:

  • Tables showcasing Gannon OT organizations, the Student OT Association and Pi Theta National OT

    Honor Society, with games music and activities, including a contest for arts made from splints

  • Representation by POTA and Gannon's student delegate to the American Occupational Therapy

    Association (AOTA)

  • Research posters and other academic presentations by Gannon OT students and faculty

  • Tables representing local providers of OT services and equipment and a job board

    According to Amy Brzuz, OTD, assistant professor of occupational therapy and a lead organizer of the event, the 70 occupational therapists who are POTA members will be invited, as will all prospective students in the area who are interested in OT as a profession. Brzuz added that the public is welcome to attend the free event.

    While the party is the main event of the month-long celebration, Gannon OT will be celebrating in other ways, particularly those that involve service to the community.

    At the Ruskin, Florida campus, where the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program that began in 2015 now has more than 50 students, the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) will mark the anniversary with an in-house celebration.

    SOTA recently raised over $500 for the Stay In Step initiative for the OTD program's community partner that will be presented this month. Stay In Step assists those with spinal cord injury in their recovery. SOTA has been very involved with the organization with research and in identifying OT needs and providing volunteers to the organization.

    In Erie, several OT students are collaborating with community partners at the spring portion of the eighth annual Purposeful Movement and Wellness Program for people with Parkinson's disease in conjunction with Parkinson Partners of Northwest PA.

    Gannon OT students will also visit Erie Homes for Children and Adults' Move facility on four occasions in April, while OT students are organizing teams for the Autism Society - Northwestern Pennsylvania's 16th Annual Walk for Autism.

    Gannon students and faculty were invited to present at the AOTA conference in Philadelphia. Eight students and two faculty members from the Erie campus attended while five students from the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program at the Ruskin campus presented their research. Four faculty members and 24 students from Ruskin campus were in attendance.

    Occupational therapy is one of the largest majors at Gannon with 234 students enrolled in master's-level and OTD programs across Gannon's two campuses. As professional practitioners, they will focus on helping clients perform everyday activities to their highest potential. Some examples include: Teaching Wounded Warriors how to hold their children again after limb loss; helping babies in the NICU learn to feed, breathe and swallow so they can thrive; providing recommendations for assistive technology in the vehicle or home so older adults can age safely; and helping stroke survivors re-learn how to bathe, groom, dress and cook for themselves, among other occupations.

    Today, more than 213,000 occupational therapy practitioners nationwide help people of all ages participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).

    That's something to celebrate. 


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