Occupational Therapy Students Provide Modified Cars to Local Children to Enhance Mobility

Belmont’s School of Occupational Therapy partnered with Vanderbilt’s Summer Academy for GoBabyGo, an interdisciplinary collaboration and nationwide program with local chapters that work to provide modified toy cars to young children living with physical, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities like Down syndrome, spina bifida or cerebral palsy. Serving as much more than toys, these cars provide an opportunity for children to move and explore their surroundings in news ways. GoBabyGo fills a significant need by providing low-cost, adaptive, ride-on toys for children.

In the Music City chapter of GoBabyGo, occupational therapy (OT) students from Belmont University and high school students attending Vanderbilt’s Summer Academy worked together to modify toy cars for eight children with diagnoses including spina bifida, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injuries. Each OT student led and worked alongside a small group of high schoolers to assess the specific postural needs of each child and make recommendations for adaptations to the car. Most of the children have physical limitations (unable to sit up without support, limited arm movement/strength, low vision, etc.) that make it difficult to operate the car as it is manufactured. Extra support and modifications like 5-point harnesses, side-railings, bilateral head supports, built up steering wheels and moving the ignition to an accessible location allow for independent use.

Once recommendations were suggested, students made the modifications during their 3-week program alongside engineers at Vanderbilt. At the end of the program, all the parties (the children and their families, OT students, high school students and instructors) presented the modified cars to the children at Belmont University. It was a memorable day filled with smiles, tears and lots of pictures.

River is pictured in his new car, complete with his favorite character–Mickey Mouse!

River, a participant who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, required a 5-point harness across his chest to support him while sitting up, a built-up steering wheel to assist with reach, a constructed backboard and the rewriting of the ignition from a gas pedal to an easily accessible button. In time and with practice, River will be able to drive himself around his house and neighborhood, exploring and learning about his surroundings and making friends independently–all opportunities he’s never had before.

President of Belmont’s Occupational Therapy Student Association and OT student Cara Miller said the opportunity to work with River and his family was an incredible experience. “As an occupational therapy student, I’m very interested in working with individuals needing adaptive equipment like wheelchairs, prosthetics or other mobility devices to promote their ability to do the things that are important to them,” she said. “I was so impressed with how quickly the high school students were able to notice things like River leaning to one side and make suggestions that would enhance his ability to sit upright. They were so intuitive and sensitive to all the children and their families that were a part of this program. This opportunity only reinforced my desire to work within this field of occupational therapy, and I can’t wait for the next GoBabyGo build in October.”

Top 5! Belmont University Lands Near Top of Annual U.S. News Rankings of Southern Colleges

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University scores accolades for innovation, teaching, veteran support and more

For the ninth consecutive year, Belmont University has again achieved a Top 10 regional ranking with today’s release of U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 edition of America’s Best Colleges, this year ranking at an impressive No. 5 and remaining the highest ranked university in Tennessee in this category. Moreover, Belmont won the praise of its peers as it was included on a number of additional U.S. News lists that rate institutions on areas critical to student opportunities and success.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “These rankings provide benchmarks that are helpful to us as we work to provide programs that equip our students to go out and make a positive impact in the world. While it is rewarding to see Belmont reach a higher ranking overall, it is especially gratifying to be recognized by our peers for excelling in areas that promote strong outcomes for our students. As a student-centered university, this is at the heart of what we aim to achieve.”

In the publication released today, Belmont is lauded for the tenth year in a row for its commitment to “making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities,” landing second on the “Most Innovative Schools” in the South list. Belmont earned acclaim in the following categories as well:

    • Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching (No. 4 in the South): The strong commitment to undergraduate teaching ranking is determined via a survey of peer institutions, who cite their fellow institutions who best reflect that quality.
    • Best Colleges for Veterans (No. 3 in the South): To be included, institutions must be ranked in the top half of their overall category, be certified for the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program with 20 or more veterans/active service members enrolled.
    • Best Value (one of only 64 institutions recognized in the South): The listing takes into account a school’s academic quality and net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal.
    • Internships (one of only 20 institutions recognized in the nation): Schools in this category encourage students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to work in the real world through closely supervised internships or practicums.
    • Learning Communities (one of only 18 institutions recognized in the nation): In these communities, students typically take two or more linked courses as a group and get to know one another and their professors well.
    • Service-Learning (one of only 23 institutions recognized in the nation): Required volunteer work in the community is an instructional strategy in these programs—what’s learned in the field bolsters what happens in class and vice versa.
    • Study Abroad (one of only 44 institutions recognized in the nation): Programs must involve substantial academic work abroad and considerable interaction with local culture

Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, “This has been an extraordinary fall for Belmont. We started the fall semester Belmont by announcing a record-breaking enrollment number for the 17th consecutive year – reaching a total of 8,080 students on campus. These students remind us every day that they are drawn to Belmont by the diversity and academic strength of our programs as well as by the intentional commitment to student success, as highlighted in the U.S. News rankings. I’m particularly proud of this incoming undergraduate class which brings, on average, the highest entering scores on the ACT (average 26.4) in the past four years. As an institution, we are committed to continue to do our best to fulfill the Belmont mission of providing an academically challenging education that will enable our students to engage and transform the world with disciplined intelligence, compassion, courage and faith.”

The U.S. News analysis places Belmont in a premier position among the 135 public and private institutions included in the South region, an area that covers Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Belmont Adds ACE Resource Guide

The Gordon E. Inman Health Sciences building on a spring day with tulips in front of the building.

As part of a grant recently provided by Tennessee and administered through the Department of Children’s Services Building Strong Brains Initiative, Belmont’s College of Health Sciences and Nursing has developed a resource library to promote the understanding of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) for health care professionals. The library is part of Belmont’s Educating Trauma Information Professionals project.

Principal investigators Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Nursing Dr. Cathy Taylor and Associate Professor of Social Work Dr. Sabrina Sullenberger collaborated with Bunch Library faculty to develop the ACE Resource Guide. The guide provides access to the valuable library of materials collected to support professions that work alongside children and families during sensitive periods of development and beyond. The ACE Resource Guide is available to all Belmont students and faculty and can be accessed here.

Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Students Lead Aquifit for the Nashville Dolphins

OT and PT students work on Aquafit program.

Eight years ago Dr. Natalie Michaels, associate professor of occupational therapy (OT), started the Aquifit program to provide aquatic exercises for wellness, socialization and enjoyment to members of the community. Originally designed to target older adults, Aquifit exercises are performed to music pool-side by physical therapists, occupational therapists, aquatic specialists, OT students and physical therapy (PT) students while community members exercise in the water.

The program has proven successful in aiding members of the older adult community with weight loss and pain reduction,

OT and PT students train with the DolphinsRecently, Aquifit expanded its impact when on Aug. 9, the program was provided to the Nashville Dolphins, a local aquatics program for children and adults with special needs. The Aquifit team was joined by Belmont OT and PT students who helped lead the exercises and assisted participants in the pool. Michaels said that once again the community was “thoroughly impressed by the professionalism and intellect of the Belmont students.”

Michaels was joined by Dr. Timothy Jones (Tennessee State University), Dr. Derek Charles (also from TSU) and Dr Joshua Maloney (Amedisys Home Health). Belmont students who participated in the event included Autumn Powell, Haley Hingtgen and Rachel Morgan from the occupational therapy program as well as Jonathan Lee, Sarah Williams, Kandiss Anderson, Lacie Nugent and Beau Kovach from the physical therapy program.

Approximately 15 members of the Dolphins participated. They reported that they had a “wonderful” and “fun” time, and they really seemed to enjoy their interactions with the Belmont students.

Belmont Wins Inaugural Siloam Health’s Bridge Builder Award

Photo by Brad Moore / B.MOORE VISUALS. retired Belmont employees John and Nancy Le with University President Dr. Bob Fisher and Mrs. Judy Fisher.

Award given to recognize community partner committed to assisting Nashville’s New Americans

In honor of the University’s commitment to helping New Americans throughout the Nashville community, Belmont was recently honored with Siloam Health’s inaugural Bridge Builders Award. Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher accepted the award at Siloam’s Amplify Nashville Awards Ceremony held on June 22 at Oz Arts. Belmont’s award by presented by Milton Johnson, CEO of HCA and Belmont trustee.

Siloam hosted the event to celebrate the immigrants and refugees who contribute to Nashville’s status as a growing, great city. The event celebrated four honorees for their tireless commitment to Nashville’s cultural diversity including:

  • Community Catalyst Award: Kasar Abdulla (Valor Collegiate Academies)
  • Good Neighbor Award: Fabian Bedne (Hispanic Family Foundation and Metro Council)
  • Culture Shaper Award: Cano and Esen Ozgener (OZ Arts Nashville)
  • Bridge Builder Award: Belmont University and Dr. Bob Fisher

Under Fisher’s leadership, Belmont consistently strives to align its vision with the ever-changing needs of its community and works to help New Americans get ahead with their education and in life. The University makes intentional efforts to hire documented, sponsored refugees, encouraging them to take advantage of the University’s educational offerings and covering the cost of ESL courses. Additionally, Belmont considers students living in the United States for admission without regard to immigration standing and offers support to assist foreign-born students with enrollment and the transition to college life.

Additionally, Belmont’s Colleges of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Nursing have been in partnership with Siloam for many years. Dr. Elissa Greene, assistant professor of pharmacy, practices at Siloam when she isn’t teaching at Belmont and hosts student pharmacists daily for clinical rotations. Students serve as resources for medical personnel, make recommendations on medication, provide patient and family counseling and make home visits, among other things. Nursing students also visit Siloam for clinical experiences, faculty members serve as regular volunteers and the College will be partnering with the organization’s faith-based, community health outreach program in the future.

John and Nancy Le, pictured above with Dr. and Mrs. Fisher, were also present at the ceremony. The Les, both retired Belmont employees, came to Nashville from Vietnam 25 years ago under Catholic Charities. They both worked at the University for more than 20 years, and four of their children and grandchildren have attended Belmont. Their story was shared at the event as an example of Belmont’s commitment to Nashville’s new Americans.

“It is so important for Belmont to serve the Nashville community,” Fisher said. “We are honored to call Nashville home, and it’s our privilege to serve our city’s newest residents through educational opportunities, employment and more. Siloam Health continues to do incredible work throughout our city, and we are so grateful to have been recognized with this award.”

CHS Faculty and Staff Perform to Raise Money for Charity

CHSN faculty and staff group perform for charityDr. Natalie Michaels, associate professor in the College of Health Sciences and Michal Christian, program assistant in the School of Nursing, continue to make music together in an effort to raise money for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee. With the addition of Dr. Mark Christian, adjunct professor in the College of Theology and Christian Ministry, the group played everything from “Misty” to “I Will Always Love You.”

Michaels has been singing and writing music since she was 10 years old. She also plays piano and the flute. Michal Christian is a classically trained ballet dancer and musician, and Dr. Mark Christian is a professional guitarist.

Mission to Guatemala: Last days

Today, the nursing/pharmacy team had the privilege of traveling to a prominent coffee plantation and offering a hand. We focused on providing health screenings and education to the plantation workers and their families. We were also able to hand out dental hygiene kits to all the individuals we crossed paths with. One thing that we have really learned on this trip is the value of teamwork. The nursing students, pharmacy students, and a Guatemalan doctor all worked hand in hand to provide this community with access to healthcare. We also got the opportunity to see how this plantation prepares their coffee products. Now not to brag, but if this healthcare stuff does not work out, some of us may have a future in the coffee industry. The highlight of our day was definitely towards the end. As we were passing the horse stables, we saw one of the young boys we had seen on day 1 of this trip. When we first saw him, he was the picture of discomfort and pain. Today, when we asked him how he was feeling, he responded with the biggest smile and an endless amount of gratitude. This was a reminder that all our hard work here was making a difference.

The PT/OT team spent our last workday back at Keramion, the school for special needs children that we visited on Monday. The day began with a bit of dancing, followed by receiving gifts from the children. We were so amazed by the generosity that we were shown and will treasure the gifts as well as the hugs we were given. Afterwards, the OT team saw one more child with autism who had some behavior issues that the mother and teachers wanted to discuss. We were able to provide education on different calming strategies such as deep pressure, bouncing on a ball, and slow swinging. His mom was present and was really interested in learning, and some of the other OT team members also had the chance to interact with child’s younger sister. Following this, the PT and OT students set up a small obstacle course for the children. Due to rain, we had to move it inside, but it still worked! The staff was excited to learn about new ways to engage the children in purposeful play that would encourage practicing different skills such as crawling, jumping, and grasping various objects.

The children headed home after completing the obstacle course so that the afternoon could be used for a staff in-service. Griselda, the school’s founder, also shared more of her incredible testimony with us, and we were able to pray for her which was a very moving experience for everyone involved. The PT students on the team also worked with Griselda on different exercises and were able to give her advice on managing her back pain. It was amazing to see how much she had improved in only a few days! For lunch, Belmont team members treated the staff to spaghetti, and the rest of the day was spent training the staff on specific topics such as sensory integration, proper lifting techniques, and behavior management. All of the staff members were extremely grateful for our help this week. After spending so much time together, it was hard to say goodbye, but we know that the children are in good hands at Keramion and that God is definitely at work there. It was such a blessing to bear witness to this incredible ministry this week.

Written by: Anais, Emily, Alicia, and Hope

Mission to Guatemala: Mother’s Day

Today was Mother’s Day which is a major holiday in Guatemala as many of the mothers had the day off work. We wanted to help serve the community by helping them prepare for the special celebration.  We enjoyed helping the students decorate and pick flowers from the field for the mothers. The PT/OT team also supported the nursing and pharmacy students stepping in as needed to assist with orthopedic and musculoskeletal concerns.  We worked as a team to identify the proper professional needed for each case.  The PT/OT team also spent the afternoon preparing educational materials for the upcoming day tomorrow.

Today, the nursing team primarily focused on mothers and children, with cultural perspective seeming to be the theme of the day. Because there was such a high number of mothers and children seen there were several things that we realized that we never noticed before. One was the relative age of mothers. Today we had a mother who was 19 with two children. This provided a dose of perspective as several members on the team are around this age and could not even imagine being in her shoes. It was also shocking to realize how access to care differs from America. Back home, if we have a concern with a child we can just drive to a clinic; however, here in Guatemala mothers showed up from all around carrying babies on their backs knowing that we were the only resources they had access to. It was eye-opening and humbling to see how far these women came just for us to get the opportunity to care for them.

Written by: Kristin & Dylan from nursing and Lexi & Maggie from PT/OT

 

Mission to Guatemala: Teamwork

TEAMWORK was the word of the day. Today both the OT/PT and Nursing/Pharmacy teams went to a coffee plantation with a school attached. Nursing and Pharmacy set up a health screening station similar to yesterday where they checked blood pressure, blood glucose, and height/weight. We assessed their needs for any medications and the doctor was able to write prescriptions. For example, one coffee worker came in for a screening and stated there were no complaints. When the nursing team found out he was having knee pain, the physical therapists were brought in to show him exercises for strengthening and explain why those would be beneficial. He was very grateful because he could apply what he learned to his everyday work. In addition, while performing a health screening on a mom and her son, nursing noticed that the son was having difficulty with using his hands. Occupational therapy was brought in to do a short assessment with the son and he was given a bag of toys to take home with him to work on his fine motor skills and radial-ulnar dissociation. He was overjoyed and thankful for the toys that he could call his own.

The kids at the school were preparing for Mother’s Day tomorrow, which is a huge holiday here and the kids were excited to make crafts for their “madre”. The kids split into groups and made necklaces bracelets with beads and a card with flowers and a special message to their mom. After this activity, the kids were excited to play outside with jump ropes, soccer and parachutes. The team noticed how much joy and happiness the kids had on their faces and in turn how much joy and happiness they brought to each one of us.

Even though there was a language barrier, the interpreters were very helpful and greatly appreciated. While there was difficulty finding interpreters who were willing to take off work from their daily jobs to help, there were a few who were gracious enough to fill the need. Along with an interpreter, a few people on the team taught CPR for adults and infants as well as the Heimlich maneuver to the adults and high school students. The parents were grateful for this education and were able to practice on the mannequin.

As we performed screenings, played outside with the kids, and did arts and crafts, every one of us on the team was amazed by the joy and love we received from them. Our work is truly appreciated and we can’t wait to go back again tomorrow to help celebrate Mother’s Day!!!

Adios for today from Guatemala!

Maria (PT), Hope (OT) and Allison (Nursing)

Mission to Guatemala: Our first day

Buenas Noches!! We successfully completed our first day of clinics here in Antigua, and wow was it humbling. The nursing/pharmacy students had the privilege of caring for around 50 students at a local school on a coffee plantation here in town. We set up a pop-up clinic that assisted a Guatemalan doctor providing physicals and basic health screenings for children and their mothers. Although today might not have gone according to our “perfect” schedule, we used today as a learning experience to remind ourselves that God’s perfect plan does not always align with our ideal plan. As a team, we learned that even though our treatment plans may have felt insufficient to the need we were trying to fulfill at the time, our love was sufficient and the Lord’s presence was there. A team member, while providing care, saw this first hand. She was observing a student who was young and just appeared sad and scared. She noticed that the student had been looking at her stethoscope with curiosity so she went and asked if the student would like to listen to her heart. The second the student began to listen her whole demeanor began to change. Her face lit up and she said “Corizone boom boom”. She continued to listen to other body sounds smiling the entire way. Through this encounter, it became apparent that healing is not only physical, it is more so emotional and spiritual, and although we do not have the resources to heal every single medical issue, we do have the capacity to show love and heal spiritually and that is in some cases even more valuable than fixing a physical issue.

At the same time, the physical therapy and occupational therapy team was over at the school for disabled children called Keramion. We started off getting to learn a lot about the school and the teachers that are devoting their lives to help these children. This staff was incredible and so welcoming of the team. Everyone was greeted with a big hug and a such a genuine smile! Griselda, the founder of the school, was so open in telling us her testimony and all she’s gone through to make Keramion an awesome environment for these kids to learn and grow. After meeting the kids, the team split up according to their specific needs and evaluated each child to assess where they are in their development. The staff members were very grateful for ideas that the mission team had given them on past trips and we’re hoping to give them more suggestions to continue the progress they are already making! While a lot of our day consisted of evaluating and utilizing what we have learned in school, a great portion of the day involved playing, interacting, and loving on the kids. A definite highlight of the day was coming back from lunch to everyone singing, dancing, and praising Jesus. We had so much fun brainstorming games for the kids to play that will also help their therapy progress!  After all the thanks we received, we couldn’t help but feel equally blessed by the staff and kids of Keramion and we are so excited to go back on Thursday!

Adios from Guatemala!

Kendall & Macey from PT (in the picture below), Kristin (not pictured) & Brooke ( back row right in the picture above) from nursing