April Occupational Therapy Month

April Occupational Therapy Month Editors note: April is National Occupational Therapy Month. This is the final article in our month long series � Occupational Therapy: Skills for the Job of Living. Visit The University of South Dakota's Occupational Therapy Department any Wednesday afternoon and you will hear sounds that are not typically heard in a college classroom. The laughter of a young child as she swings in a hammock, or the enthusiastic shout of "I did it!" as a child successfully writes his first cursive sentence can often be heard coming from the department's pediatric clinic. In September of 2000, the Center for Promotion of Child Health was created as a result of collaboration between the occupational therapy faculty at The University of South Dakota and the Director of Rehabilitation Services at Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center. According to Barb Brockevelt, chair of the occupational therapy department, "the purpose of the center is to provide therapy services for children and their families to optimize children's health and well being at home, at school and in the community." Secondly, the center provides an opportunity for graduate students in occupational therapy to gain experience in working with children and families. Under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist, students provide services to five children on a regular basis. These children have need in a variety of areas, including visual-motor skills, fine motor coordination, movement, and feeding. Through this experience the occupational therapy students gain many skills that are necessary for them as clinicians: they learn how to plan and carry out treatment sessions, observe and document progress, interact with children of various ages and abilities, and to collaborate with parents and teachers as well. Students believe the clinic is a rewarding experience that assists them in the learning process. "The pediatric clinic is a beneficial program for all involved," said Melanie Hoffman, "It offers students an opportunity to learn within a supervised environment while teaching children skills that allow them to be as independent as possible in their daily lives." Mindy Coats, another student, said, "The pediatric clinic is a great way to have hands-on experience in relations to the information in our classroom setting. It really helps to tie everything together." Working with children is just one of the many exciting areas of occupational therapy. Graduate students in occupational therapy at USD have additional opportunities for service learning, including assisting seniors to maintain independence in self-care and to enjoy leisure activities, and making recommendations to employers for modification of work environments to prevent injury. If you would like to learn more about the occupational therapy program at The University of South Dakota or about the Center for Promotion of Child Health, please contact the occupational therapy department at (605)677-5600.

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