Friday, September 15, 2017

My OT Story: By Anonymous

I started in physical therapy but when I moved to the United States my only option was to go to school for occupational therapy since OT was undergraduate program. My initial career plan was to finish OT school and then pursue physical therapy. But because I fell in love with our profession, I stayed with it! Occupational therapy is very unique and what OT does for the patients just made sense to me. There is a lot of room for creativity which is great. I love OT.

By: Anonymous

My OT Story: By Anonymous

With occupational therapy, the possibilities are endless. That is why I became an occupational therapist; because it allows my creativity to be shown but most importantly it helps my patients to get better.


My OT Story: By Shanpin Fanchiang

Occupational therapy in primary care is hot! With healthcare shifting from “fee-for-service” to “value-based purchasing” we are changing healthcare practices. Prevention, wellness, self-management, keeping people from re-admitting to hospitals, managing chronic illness for secondary prevention, and telehealth are practices embraced by many.

Occupational therapists add value to care in the setting of patient-centered medical homes. A patient with paraplegia came into a clinic to be seen for his shoulder pain. He rated his pain between 2 to 9 throughout the day. An occupational therapist, with the primary care clinician, attended the encounter. The occupational therapist gave prompt intervention to address pain management issues. The patient said, “It is eye-opening; gravity is pulling my weak, painful muscles. I can definitely do the three things you taught me. Yeah, I want to have occupational therapy to learn more.” He left happy. 

By: Shanpin Fanchiang, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Amber Guirola

One of the first patients I worked with was receiving therapy after suffering a stroke. She wanted to learn to walk and dance so she would be able to dance with her husband at their 50th wedding anniversary celebration later that year. She worked very hard and pushed herself to her limits to gain balance, strength, endurance, control and confidence to be able to dance through their song, “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra.         

 By: Amber Guirola, COTA

My OT Story: By Debbie Wang

My first year creating a dance program for people with physical challenges was an inspirational and pivotal one for me. I had already been an OT for 5 years, and I had been working with my group of dancers for a few months to be a part of the Rancho Los Amigos Performing Arts Show. Needless to say, they did amazing! After the show, our group met and talked and I told them how proud I was of each and every one of them. One of the dancers turned to the group and shared something incredible. He said he felt particularly accomplished. However, what he was most proud of was not the dancing at all!  Our group “costume” for that show was our team shirt and blue jeans. He shared with us that after 20 years of being injured, he wore jeans for the first time that day. He explained he had worn sweatpants since his injury and he was so happy to be able to go to the store and buy blue jeans. He also shared that he had to use the regular toilet for the first time because we had to change before the show, and although he was afraid, he did it! As an OT, I could really appreciate what this meant for him (and I felt like the best OT ever!). That moment reaffirmed my belief in the power of meaningful occupation to change lives!

By: Debbie Wang, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Darren’s story submitted by his OT Stephanie Hayes-Jackson

I have been in occupational therapy on and off for the past six years. For some people, this might sound like a life sentence. After six strokes, I was told I would be lucky to be able to swallow…or roll over in bed. I had to relearn how to take care of myself with only half of my body cooperating. Dragging a shirt up my dead arm and shoulder, and wiggling into it. I hated it and occupational therapy. I wanted my old body back. For a long time I made just as much effort as I needed to stay in the program. It wasn’t conscious, I just couldn’t believe in myself; but my therapist did. At my lowest point, my therapist told me straight out: if I wanted to get better, I had to do the work. Otherwise I was wasting both our time. I hated hearing it and resented her. But I have to admit, she was right. I started doing the work. And the little achievements, the ones I would have disdained before because they were not good enough or big enough, started to make a difference in my life. With that momentum, I was able to make bigger changes in my life, cutting down on the negative behaviors that were, literally, killing me. If my therapists hadn’t made a long-term investment in me I would not have made that investment in myself.

By: Darren’s story submitted by his OT Stephanie Hayes-Jackson, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Ana Sandoval

I worked in many different areas before occupational therapy FOUND ME! I have found occupational therapy to be the most rewarding career. I am drawn by occupational therapy’s ability to look at patients holistically. I see every patient as my family (my father, mother, grandmother, brother, etc.). My job is to help them achieve their goals and show them a world of possibilities. The best part of my job is watching a patient’s attitude change from fear and uncertainty to hope and confidence. God bless all OTs!

By: Ana Sandoval, COTA

My OT Story: By Honor Galloway

Story 1:
 There was a young woman who had been injured during an accident in which she had been a passenger on a motorcycle. I met her soon after she had been discharged from inpatient rehabilitation. As a result of the accident, she had lost the movement in both legs and one arm, and was having trouble visualizing herself resuming her role as a student with goals and aspirations of success. She was afraid that she would not be able to manage in a classroom. However, with a lot of encouragement, she finally decided to try an online class which she felt was safer; and then she got the courage to take a class at school. I was so proud of her when she stopped to see her OTs a few weeks ago and shared that she was just one semester away from graduating from a California State University with a degree in accounting.

Story 2:
I had the opportunity to work with a remarkable woman who had severe shoulder pain as a result of rheumatoid arthritis. She was being evaluated for bilateral shoulder replacements, and during the pre-operative occupational therapy evaluation, I discovered that she loved art and music, and played the cello professionally. This was discussed with the surgeons, who agreed that during surgery for staged total shoulder arthroplasties they would place one of her shoulders with increased external rotation, and the other with increased internal rotation. This allowed her to continue to play her beloved cello after her shoulder replacements. Even after it became difficult to play professionally, she continued to get together and play with a small group of musicians. She also resumed painting which she had not done for years prior to her shoulder surgery, and has a painting hanging on one of the walls at Rancho Los Amigos. Whenever I pass that painting, I have fond memories of her success and the joy she found in her art and music.

By: Honor Galloway, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Michal Atkins

Eight days after giving birth to a healthy baby girl, a young mother had an injury that left her paralyzed from the neck down. She was admitted to Rancho Los Amigos Intensive Care Unit, and she and her husband were of course devastated. Her OT goals were to hold her baby in bed and have a fan to cool her face down. Her OT worked hard with the team to achieve the patient’s goals. It required assertive effort with all involved and dealing with a lot of bureaucracy….and it worked. When the day arrived and the patient was able to have her newly born baby girl in her arms, the patient and her husband were relieved and happy. It was a first ray of light for the patient and it made the staff and the occupational therapist realize how going the extra mile can make our patients’ lives better one day at a time.

By: Michal Atkins, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Monica Becerril

I love being an occupational therapist because I can try instilling hope to people who have suffered an accident, illness or injury so that they can live their lives and do the things that are important and meaningful to them.  I love being an occupational therapist because we try to help the whole person. For example, we address not only physical issues, but social, cultural, spiritual, environmental, familial, emotional, and personal issues. With our patients we can be creative problem-solvers to find ways to address each person’s unique needs and situations.

By: Monica Becerril, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Luini Ornelas

A patient of mine had his stroke in 2009. He received inpatient and outpatient therapy early in his recovery and had to end his program due to seizures. When he came back to OT this year, he recounted how little he could do for himself before therapy, and how he learned to take care of himself with the help of his occupational therapists. He enjoys taking the bus and going to the mall. He came back to OT to enhance his life further by getting back into cooking.

By: Luini Ornelas, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Lisa Deshaies

I love being an OT for countless moments of helping people achieve meaningful things big and small:
-          A grandmother holding her infant granddaughter to feed her
-          A law student graduating and passing the bar exam
-          A mother cooking spring rolls for her family
-          A rap artist holding a microphone and dancing
-          A camping enthusiast pitching a tent
-          A young woman applying her make-up
-          A boy playing baseball with his friends

What an honor to rebuild lives together!!

By: Lisa Deshaies, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Denise Ha

I love being an OT because I have the privilege of helping people discover that life can still be fulfilling and productive after a disabling illness or injury. I enjoy seeing people develop the self- confidence to step out of their homes and get back into the community; when they learn they can still do things they enjoy, despite their physical or cognitive changes. The best reward is being part of the journey of helping people pursue and achieve one of their most important goals in life: returning to school or work. 

By:Denise Ha, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Kathleen Shanfield

Story 1: 
Rancho Los Amigos has such a rich history of caring for patients, however participating in research has also always been important. I have been able to be involved in research as a “subject”, a research assistant and even as a published author! As a subject, I was on a treadmill while breathing polluted air, and also had tubes stuck up my nose to measure sinus pressure (ugh). I have collected data on hand surgery patients, use of mobile arm supports, aging with disability, and now for brain computer interface! This involvement in research has enriched my life as an OT at Rancho.

Story 2:
When I first started working at Rancho Los Amigos in 1980, I was on the Pulmonary Ward. I was responsible for taking care of all the young men with muscular dystrophy (MD) that lived there. They were the longest living patients with MD at the time. I became very close to the “boys” and spend hundreds of hours making splints, switches, arm supports and contraptions to allow them to drive their wheelchairs and do jobs like deliver mail around the hospital. To this day I credit them with my dedication to technology and problem solving that I use every day in the Center for Applied Rehabilitation Technology (CART)!

By: Kathleen Shanfield, OTR/L

My OT Blog: By Stephanie Yang

I was devastated when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in high school. I felt like the medical providers were cold and offered very little hope. Our family roles and routines were changing and we did not know how to adjust and live with all these changes. This is what sparked a little fire inside of me to look into the medical professions. This is how I found OT.  I loved how OTs gave glimpses of hope when everything looked bleak. I loved how OTs sought to bring meaning to life again; and the hope that yes, life can be meaningful despite devastation.  I loved how OTs were creative, warm and full of compassion. This was not just “any” job. I chose to become an OT to serve others in a way that we missed out on when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. My mom has been cancer free for 19 years now. She lives a very full and meaningful life. I try to think of my mom when I am working with patients and my hope is that I may shed just a little bit of warmth to those that I work with.

By: Stephanie Yang, OTR/L

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Inspirational Client Story: By Amy Guerrero

As a mother, watching your child struggle is extremely painful. I have three young daughters, but my seven year old has dealt with some unique emotional and behavioral challenges over the course of her young life. On the outside, she has always looked like a perfectly healthy, happy child. However, beyond the surface, our lives have been fraught with debilitating meltdowns and tears as she has been unable to navigate change, discomfort, certain social situations, and a variety of other circumstances both at home and school. We moved from Kansas to Fresno last fall and frankly, we kind of “happened” upon occupational therapy. It was almost a last ditch effort out of desperation. But through 6 months of frequent sessions and ongoing parental support with her OT, Megan Baxter (and a subsequent diagnosis of PVL, which explained her challenges), my daughter is now able to employ the necessary strategies to help herself, and my husband and I have also been equipped as parents to help our daughter live her life in a better way. Even though I am a teacher and have worked with many occupational therapists over the years, before this experience, I really had no idea of the scope of practice of OT. But now I know how broad it really is, and as both an educator and a mother, I will advocate for occupational therapy in any way possible. Our lives have forever been changed by occupational therapy. In fact, I can’t write this without tearing up because I am so grateful, and I know the place we are in now, versus the place we were, is largely due to Megan’s work as an Occupational Therapist. And I will forever be thankful for not only Megan, but for the profession itself.
By: Amy Guerrero

Inspirational Client Story, Being an OT/OTA: By Shariff Ibadullah

Today marked the day of joy and happiness. I worked with a particular patient for a couple of weeks that had a stroke and has been trying to physically get better for the past 3 months, but his mentality was weakened since day one. He wanted to work in getting better and stronger with no hesitation. Today was his last treatment for OT and PT and as soon as i said, "you have completed your last therapy session" he began to cry. At first I thought I said something wrong, but realized it was tears of joy and accomplishment. He said, "thank you thank you for sacrificing your time in treating me to reach my goal". I replied, "time is only time, as long as I'm using it to accomplish something like this-it's worth it". I was trying to reel back my tears as he hugged me and shook my hand. This is why I want to become an OT, this is what I live for, this is what my personality is based on, and this is who I am. #OTmonth #OTpersonified
By Shariff Ibadullah

Being an OT/OTA, OTAC Conference Experiences: By Susan Fisher McClure

I have been an occupational therapist for 50 years, graduated from SJSU in 1966 and completed my 9 months of clinical affiliations in March 1967. I have worked in many capacities over the years: state hospital; with psychiatric and developmentally disabled (DD) clients, outpatient and acute hospital setting, SNFs, home health, schools, and groups homes for DD clients and assisted living elderly clients. I obtained my post professional MS degree in my 60s. I also was a childbirth instructor and International Breastfeeding Consultant for 10 years. I have been through my own share of living with a short term disabilities: 2 hip and 1 knee replacements, and being my own OT. And in many situations I was able to communicate with my clients on a very personal level because I often knew, experientially, what they we're going through. Last October, I attended the OTAC's Spring Symposium March 4-5. I attended the Spring Symposium not realizing that several conference sessions I attended were going to come in quite handy: Living in Place and Fall Risk and Prevention. In February, I signed up to attend the 2 day training on April 12-13, to become a Certified Living in Place Professional, A course approved by AOTA. A week after the Spring Symposium, I went from walking to using a cane to requiring a walker and ended up in the hospital for 2 days. I had a barrage of radiology tests: MRI, CT scan and ultra sound and also experienced the medical people that I saw not taking the results seriously enough, thinking that pain medications would most likely take care of the problem. All the PT did was ask me to show him I could use a walker and get in and out of bed. And a PT I saw as a outpatient just gave me some exercises to do at home. But within a week after coming home I was worse than ever. So I enlisted help from my daughter who is a MD that did 3 years of a neurosurgery residency and then switched to radiology, Within 2 days I saw a neurosurgeon and am schedule to have a lumbar laminectomy in May or June (no set date yet). But now I have to really use my OT skills, spending hours, that I now have a lot of, finding my handy dressing stick and one set of reachers, reviewing 4 wheel walkers, stair lifts, bidets, obtaining 2 more reachers, chair seats that don't cause as much electrical spams in my back and upper leg. We purchased a decent bed (not a hospital one) for me to use downstairs for an indefinite time and I have a person that is moving things out of our upstairs master bedroom-bathroom area since a bathroom renovation was already scheduled in 2 weeks.I am then looking at a curb-less shower, plenty of grab bars, shower bench, raised toilet with the bidet, etc. and expect to learn more at the Living in Place class I am attending next week. So essentially I am delivering OT services to myself and the skills that I am also gaining will allow me to better serve clients in another capacity.

By: Susan Fisher McClure, MS, OTR/L

Monday, April 24, 2017

My OT Story: Martha: By Lisa Deshaies

Martha was 13 years old when she became ill with meningococcal meningitis. This led to amputations of both arms below the elbow & both legs below the knee as well as scarring on much of her body. She received extensive OT during inpatient rehabilitation using activity modification, assistive devices, & prosthetic training to allow her to go back to playing with her Barbie dolls, caring for herself, & attending school. Martha received outpatient OT on numerous occasions as a young adult to help her relearn how to accomplish daily tasks when she switched from body-powered to myoelectric arm prostheses, and to help her meet the challenges of attending college and driving a car. Martha is now in her 30s, employed full-time as a service coordinator for Orange County Regional Center, and happily married. I have been touched and honored that she has invited me to celebrate milestones with her over the years including her school graduations and her recent wedding. Martha is an inspiring example of OT helping people live life to the fullest.

By Lisa Deshaies, OTR/L, CHT

MY OT Story: A Firefighter: By Lisa Arroyo

This firefighter was involved in an electrical burn resulting in an above elbow amputation. After being released from a burn center he was seen for ADL’s, prosthetic training, burn care, work re-entry and then eventually on the job training. He returned to full duty and soon thereafter promoted to engineer and taught CPR as well. He was a father of 3 children and was an inspiration to all those that were in the clinic and was often a ‘cheerleader’ encouraging other patients on a regular basis. He continues to work and lead a very active lifestyle participating in a gym program 3 days a week. Although it was over 10 years since his injury he recently received an i-limb prosthetic by touch bionics; and asked to have his OT attend his training and become certified as well. He has been a true advocate for therapy and even more for OT. He was a patient that participated in various treatment settings with OT as his primary provider source.

 By: Lisa Arroyo, OTR/L, CHT, Hand Therapy Specialist

My OT Story: By Shanti Malladi

 A smiling person approached me at the OTAC Spring Symposium and asked me if I recognized her. The face looked familiar but after seeing her mother I remembered this former patient of mine. The mother thanked me for helping her child during her first few years of development. She thanked all the OTs who also helped in the process. The mother cried as she hugged me and said she will never forget all that OT did. I too had tears of joy. Because of her positive experiences, the child is now pursuing an OT degree! The mother has already invited me to the graduation in 2 years. This made me realize why I became an OT- to not only help people with various abilities but to be rewarded like this.  

By: Shanti Malladi  

My OT Story: By Janyce Johnson

The ultimate therapeutic use of self: I am an OT with over thirty years of experience in pediatrics. I adopted an infant out of foster care who was prenatally substance and probably trauma exposed… who is now 18 and attending junior college and experiencing part-time employment… who will never stop being great! OT is my life!

By: Janyce Johnson

My OT Story: By Bao Hoang

My sister introduced me to occupational therapy. I have always wanted to work in the healthcare field and OT was the perfect match. I currently study at West Coast University in Los Angeles and it is one of the best decisions I have made. The environment and faculty definitely motivates and inspires me to learn and be at my best.

 By: Bao Hoang

My OT story: By Erik Listou

To help everyone “live in place”, occupational therapists are vital! When a client has needs due to age or a condition, an interprofessional network is needed. Occupational therapists are critical in working with designers, contractors, childproofers, product manufacturers, and finance experts to ensure success!

 By: Erik Listou

My OT story: By Judy Packard

Over thirty years ago I took a career guidance class that recommended occupational therapy as perfect for me. Since I was already a teacher, I knew I wanted to work with children. I have worked with premature infants, children in school, and now with children at Regional Center. I started my own non-profit and love the freedom and flexibility that OT has allowed me. It’s a great profession!

Judy Packard

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Help Tell the Story of OT – Share Your Inspirational Stories

You are invited to share your most inspirational client* stories on how OT and/or their OT helped them to participate in meaningful activities to optimize their life experience.

We also welcome your personal reflections on the OT Centennial; OT float; and OTAC membership, leadership experience, Annual Conference or Spring Symposium attendance, etc. We welcome photos to accompany your stories. We recommend postings of approximately 200 words.

*Please adhere to HIPAA when sharing information about your clients.