As part of the new student orientation this week, the School of Occupational Therapy had 57 students and faculty members involved in an afternoon of service at six different locations around the Nashville area. Service opportunities included shopping for refugee families with World Relief, sorting and organizing equipment for the Tennessee Disability Coalition, packaging newborn kits and prenatal vitamins at LiveBeyond, doing landscaping at Homeplace, making cards for Meals on Wheels through Fifty Forward and interacting with residents at Morningside Assisted Living Facility. Through these service experiences, they got to know each other while learning about organizations around the Belmont community and being introduced to service, which is a key value of the University and a central theme in the occupational therapy curriculum design.
Dr. Teresa Plummer, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy, was a presenter this spring at the Interdisciplinary Seating and Mobility Conference in Nottwil, Switzerland. The conference was held at the Switzerland Paraplegic Center, a 150 bed facility dedicated to spinal cord injury rehab and research. Dr. Plummer’s presentation was on the Relationship of Vision, Posture and Mobility.
The Inman Health Sciences Building became a workshop and playground on Thursday as part of an international project to promote pediatric mobility. University of Delaware physical therapy professor Cole Galloway and his Pediatric Mobility Lab and Design Studio bought to Belmont Go Baby Go, a program that teaches adults how to modify existing toy cars in a few hours to make them functional for children with disabilities.
Eight families and their therapists from Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia worked alongside Belmont occupational therapy and physical therapy students and alumni to learn how to modify toys and the logistics of the Go Baby Go program. Together, they altered Fisher Price Lightning McQueen red cars with Velcro, PVC pipes, pool noodles and kickboards to create wheelchair-like toys. The cars also function as physical therapy devices to teach strength and balance while allowing the disabled children to socialize with other children their age. Through constraint-induced therapy, the children are motivated to use their weaker muscles to gain independence and operate the toys, which by nature are fun. Buttons were moved so that the toy car moves only when a girl with cerebral palsy holds her head up or a boy with a spinal cord injury stands.
Two occupational therapy doctoral students from Belmont University, Evan Pendygraft and Jevorius Price, began work this semester to provide ergonomic consultation to Spring Back Mattress Recycling in Nashville. The local non-profit was started in 2010 as a project by a Belmont University Enactus (then Students in Free Enterprise) team who explored mattress recycling as a means of achieving a triple bottom line, serving people, planet, and profit. Pendygraft and Price are working under the guidance of Dr. Teresa Plummer and Dr. Debra Gibbs, faculty members in the School of Occupational Therapy, and with Dr. John Gonas from the College of Business Administration, to assist workers at Spring Back to lessen the physical strain in their work activities and avoid potential injury. The consultation will continue during the next year.
Over 70 physical and occupational therapists attended a continuing education course, An Evidence Based Approach to Standing and Walking for Children with Moderate to Severe Motor Dysfunction, at Belmont University on Saturday, February 22. This course was sponsored by Belmont University Schools of Physical and Occupational Therapy along with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. The course was taught by Ginny Paleg, a nationally-recognized expert in pediatric standing and mobility, and was underwritten by Prime Engineering. Course participants learned how to select and fit appropriate standing and walking assistive devices for children with special needs.
Nathan Cruse, a third-year doctoral student in the School of Occupational Therapy, was part of a volunteer team organized by Achilles International to guide a blind runner through the 26.2 mile New York City Marathon this past Sunday. Cruse signed up for this duty back in May and was chosen to be one of three individuals to guide runner Theresa Khayyam. In the months leading up to the marathon, he guided Khayyam in training runs once or twice a week, working on running in unpredictable weather and on unfamiliar courses to increase her confidence in her abilities and her faith in her guides.
As an avid runner, it has always been a dream of Cruse’s to run in the New York City Marathon. “I love the feeling of completing a race, knowing that all the sweat and pain of training has truly paid off,” said Cruse. He added, “I have always imagined what it would feel like to cross the finish line of the New York City Marathon. Little did I know that taking a back seat and standing alongside another runner while she completed the race would be an even greater experience.”