Occupational Therapy Service

A Whole New World of Fieldwork 

This year the Department of Occupational Therapy offers three new and unique fieldwork options. These experiences allow OT students to be immersed in a different culture (nationally and internationally) during their fieldwork.  These trips are special because the Rockhurst OT faculty serve as your fieldwork educator.  Typical fieldwork options are available.

National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) - Winter Park, Colorado

The department partnered with the NSDC and sent five OT students to Winter Park, Colorado for a week this summer to assist at a sport camp for adults with developmental disabilities. Each member of the Rockhurst group served as a camp instructor supporting campers participation in outdoor activities. We lived at the camp site and were able to assist the campers in achieving goals related to greater independence in self-care, functional mobility, and cooking tasks. Several campers, who were also working on improving social behaviors, experienced significant improvement in these areas which the NSCD staff directly attributed to the insightful work of the OT students.

One of our favorite memories was the morning the campers helped us make breakfast. It was the first time that the campers had been given the chance to flip a pancake, cook bacon, make fruit salad and even orange juice. Another highlight of the week was the therapeutic horseback riding experience. The OT students were able to see the campers who were utterly terrified at the thought of being on a horse work through emotional fears. It was truly a therapeutic process.

This experience with NSCD in Colorado has resulted in a growing relationship with the local Kansas City Branch. In September, four OT students participated in the NSCD charity golf tournament to raise funds for local NSCD events. In late October several students and a faculty member served as volunteers for KC NSCD Ability Day. The group assisted individuals with a disability to participate in a variety of indoor and outdoor sporting programs including gymnastics, basketball, baseball, and seated volleyball.

The local chapter has asked RU OT to continue their involvement with local programs including the annual Winter Ski School in Weston, MO.

The Damien House—Guayaquil, Ecuador

For the fourth time, we made the trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador to provide OT and PT services at the Damien House. The Damien House provides complete medical care to individuals with Hansen's disease, also known as leprosy. This year eight OT students, five PT students, and three faculty members, made the trip. The students were able to actualize their skills and participate in inter-disciplinary treatment providing care to the residents of the Damien House and the outpatient clientele. In addition to one-on-one treatment, students ran exercise groups, craft groups, fabricated splints, taught home exercise programs and assessed work stations. Students also provided assistance around the facility by stuffing envelopes, cleaning closets and much more.

Clients sought out the students, complied with recommended treatments, and improved! By the end of the week, students and residents had fallen into a routine making it very hard to leave. As always, the clients left a lasting impression on both students and the faculty and we hope to continue our service next year.

To accomplish this we need your help. The Damien House lost a significant portion of their funding last year and may have to close their doors. OT and PT students were able to fundraise and present a check to the Damien House for over $1000. But continued support is crucial and we request that those of you who traveled to Ecuador in the past make a donation to the Foundation. You can send your check to:

Damien House, Inc.
c/o Suzanne Belz (President)
4407 North Elston Ave.
Chicago, IL 60630
Please make checks payable to
Damien House, Inc.

Visit us on the Damien House website at: http://www.thedamienhouse.org/ or write us at: damienhouse@gmail.com.

St. Lucia—Island Nation in Eastern Caribbean Sea

This January will be the first time RU occupational therapy students travel to St. Lucia for a Level I fieldwork. We will join an OT (who served in the Peace Corps in St. Lucia but now works and resides in Kansas City) to offer OT services for those with mental health diagnoses in the rural communities of St. Lucia. We plan to offer this fieldwork twice this academic year due to the overwhelming interest of students.

OT Department Receives International Service Grant
The Department of Occupational Therapy Education is pleased to receive a grant that funds occupational therapy students and faculty to travel to the Damien House in Duran, Ecuador to perform therapeutic services for area residents this fall. Damien House is a foundation that works to bring "dignity to the lives of those affected by Hansen's Disease." This disease, also known as leprosy, is chronic and infectious and is caused by tiny bacteria that invade the body. Symptoms and signs include nerve damage, skin lesions, weakened muscles and bone deterioration. "We have traveled for four times and there continues to be a tremendous need for OT services, and we are thrilled to have this opportunity to return." says Kris Vacek, Chairperson of the Department of Occupational Therapy Education. This trip will count as a Level I Fieldwork for the students. The nature of this experience will allow occupational therapy students a tremendous opportunity to use their gifts through service and experiential learning. We believe learning is conceptualized as a life-long process and for the student it begins in the classroom, but continues through guided clinical experiences that help to enrich and prepare the student for practice, leadership and service when they graduate from Rockhurst University.

Spring Break Service in Guatemala

Travel to Guatemala with other OT, PT, and CSD students during the annual spring break service trip to provide service and health care to those in need.

On past trips, students have seen patients with learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, foot deformities, spinal cord injuries, gun shot wounds and Dupuytren's. Additional activities have included: working for the reforestation program, helping clean the operation and pre-operation rooms in the town clinic and helping teach English as the local school. Students have the opportunity to apply for international service trips. The cost is often discounted for students and supplemented by Rockhurst University.

Service at the American Stroke Foundation

Rockhurst University partners with the American Stroke Foundation (ASF) thanks to a grant from the Research Foundation. The partnership allows students in OT, PT, and CSD to offer weekly services to the patrons of the ASF Stroke Center. Janis Davis, assistant professor of occupational therapy, was involved in writing the grant.

"This program provides an opportunity for our students to work at the community level with persons who have suffered strokes," she said. "It provides the patrons of the Stroke Center with services at a community resource center to learn ways to adapt to their disabilities, and gives their families and caregivers support as they adjust to having a loved one with a disability."

Students have opportunities to interact with survivors of stroke and provide educational sessions.

OT and PT Pro Bono Clinic

The Pro Bono Clinic, developed by faculty and students from Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, complements the learning and service mission of Rockhurst University. Developed in cooperation with the Kansas City Free Health Clinic, it provides a midtown clinic to serve the needs of people who are uninsured. This clinic enhances the quality of life for those citizens while helping Rockhurst faculty and students live our moral and economic responsibilities as citizens of this community.

Graduate students from OT and PT, in their final year of study, serve as clinic administrators. Assisted by faculty mentors, the clinic administrators organize and run each clinic. First, second, and third year PT and first and second year OT students volunteer to assist with evaluations and patient education. All students are supervised by academic and/ or clinical faculty from OT and PT.

The clinic is held the 1st or 2nd Friday of the month from 1-4 p.m. at the Kansas City Free Health Clinic, 3515 Broadway. For directions, please visit http://www.mapquest.com or call (816)753-5144.

Each clinic scheduled in 2012 will give volunteer students the opportunity to assist with any special screenings and also perform basic assessments such as ROM, MMT, sensory testing, blood pressure, and posture. Students should review all of these assessments before attending the clinics.