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Occupational Therapy Students Reimagine Care Settings with Interactive Exhibits

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Second-year students pursuing their master’s degrees in occupational therapy showcased project concepts developed for their course, 'Practice Settings,' at an interactive display held last week at Bay Path’s Philip H. Ryan Health Science Center in East Longmeadow.

The students brought their ideas to life through displays that showcased innovative programming and resources designed to provide occupational therapy in community-based settings, as opposed to the medical model of care typically practiced in hospitals or care centers.

“We’re really looking to expand the breadth of possibilities for places and ways that OTs can practice,” explained Dr. Kimberly Henrichon, OTD, the Practice Settings instructor. “OTs constantly consider the environment and the context of where and how to best serve clients. Tools, equipment, and location are critical parts of our work, influencing our decisions daily. Therefore, we asked students to imagine an ideal setting for their work and then design it.”

Working in groups, students presented concepts for programs and facilities that aimed to recognize and support those suffering from postpartum depression; promote financial literacy to help adults with schizophrenia manage their spending; provide a community space for children on the autism spectrum, along with their parents and caregivers; and promote educational and therapeutic leisure activities to support individuals preparing for release from prison, among other presentations.

“Our goal in occupational therapy is to work with clients to help them achieve as much independence as possible, increasing their access to community resources and empowering them to manage their lives,” said Malanie Young, a member of the team that developed “Financial Keepers,” a community-based financial literacy program designed for individuals with schizophrenia residing in group homes.

Dr. Henrichon noted, “These projects are part of the students’ final semester of coursework. Next semester, they begin six months of full-time fieldwork, where they can share their research, thinking, and experiences in various settings across the country. I'm genuinely excited for them.”