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The Department of Occupational Therapy hosted the 2022 Pitt OT Spring Colloquium as a virtual event on April 26, 2022 to discuss current issues and the newest OT research, education and theory to create the best OT practice for the future. The Colloquium opened with a welcome address from Professor and Chair Elizabeth Skidmore and recognition of the Pitt OT Award recipients. Dr. Kathleen Lyons delivered the inaugural Joan C. Rogers Distinguished Lecture "Telephone-delivered Occupational Therapy: A Contradiction in Terms?" The event concluded with a poster session which featured capstone projects from our Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) graduates and presentations from our Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Science (PhD) students.

Welcome Address from the Chair and Awards Recognition Ceremony

Elizabeth R. Skidmore, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FACRM

The following awardees were recognized at the 2022 Pitt OT Spring Colloquium:

Award of Appreciation
Danielle Gill, CLC
For supporting occupational therapy through research and education.

Award of Appreciation
UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital
For supporting occupational therapy education by providing meaningful in-depth mental health experiences for our students.

Award of Appreciation
Mark Longietti, State Representative, D-Mercer
For supporting occupational therapy through meaningful engagement, education and service.

Clinical/Community Educator Award
Lauren Orosz, MOT, OTR/L
For demonstrating dedication to high quality education of occupational therapy students in Level I fieldwork.

Clinical/Community Educator Award
Rachel Popovich, MOT, OTR/L, CPAM
For demonstrating excellence in occupational therapy practice, management, advocacy and education in Level II fieldwork.

Alumni Award of Excellence
Joelle Urquhart, MOT, OTR/L, C/NDT, CBS
For advancing occupational therapy through practice, education and service.

Joan C. Rogers Distinguished Lecture

Kathleen Lyons, ScD, OTR/L
Dr. Lyons is Professor of Occupational Therapy at Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions where she directs the Cancer Rehabilitation (CaRe) Lab. Her primary area of interest is in developing and testing participant-directed cancer rehabilitation interventions that are tailored to address individual priorities and needs. Dr. Lyons uses both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to explore and improve the functional recovery and quality of life of adult cancer survivors. Her research has been funded by the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Dr. Lyons received her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Occupational Therapy from the University of New Hampshire and received her Doctor of Science degree in Therapeutic Studies from Boston University. 

Telephone-delivered Occupational Therapy: A Contradiction in Terms?
Occupational therapy leaders have long advocated for occupation-based practice, emphasizing the potency of engaging in meaningful activities during therapy sessions. This talk presented lessons learned while training occupational therapists to deliver a cancer rehabilitation intervention by telephone within a randomized controlled trial. The goal of this intervention is to help breast cancer survivors engage in daily therapeutic occupations outside of the context of a therapy session. The research and clinical implications of the choice to deliver the intervention by telephone will be discussed, highlighting the importance and challenges of planning for “real world” implementation during intervention development research.

Poster Sessions

The virtual poster sessions focused on bringing the concept of the poster presentation beyond the four walls of a conference hall. 

We invite you to explore the range of topic areas that were presented by our OTD and PhD students.

OTD Capstone Poster Session

This virtual poster session served as a platform to showcase the culmination of our Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) students’ doctoral capstone experience, relating theory to practice and demonstrating synthesis of advanced knowledge.

Creating Sensory Spaces in a Specialty School 

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OTD Peer Network: Rachel Fleming, Laura Moore, Remy Prem, Kayley Renz and Caitlyn Wear

Faculty Mentor: Erin Mathia, CScD, MOT, OTR/L

Capstone Site: Provident Charter School

Concentration/Focus Area: Children and Youth/Sensory Integration and Processing

Abstract: Provident Charter School will benefit from the improvement and incorporation of sensory interventions into the school environment. A sensory room and sensory walkway provide children with physical and mental stimulation and allows them to interact with various sensory stimuli/input. Due to this, we have designed and implemented both a sensory room and a sensory walkway in the school. This project has helped increase behavioral regulation and classroom management for school faculty.  

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to... 

  1. Identify behaviors in school-aged children that may indicate a need for sensory breaks using a sensory room or walkway.
  2. Identify the appropriate equipment in the sensory room needed to meet the individual sensory needs of school-aged children.

For questions about this poster, contact Rachel Fleming at raf99@pitt.edu.

Development and Implementation of a Mentorship Program for Young Adult Cancer Survivors

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OTD Peer Network: Madelyn Olson, Mallory Pollack, Rebecca Soliwoda, Alexandria Suydam, Alexa Taylor and Kristen Vilett

Faculty Mentor: Jennifer White, CScD, MOT, OTR/L

Capstone Site: Young Adult Survivors United

Concentration/Focus Area: Home and Community Health/Oncology

Abstract: This presentation describes the process of developing and implementing a mentorship program within the Young Adult Survivors United (YASU) community to meet the need for increased support. Occupational therapists are experts in providing client-centered care for cancer survivors, and this presentation highlights how this contribution can be broadened to the community level to maximize impact.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Identify the gaps within the young adult cancer survivor community's support system to understand the need for implementation of a mentorship program.
  2. Describe the process for developing and implementing a mentorship program within YASU in order to initiate implementation of similar support programs in other communities that may benefit.

For questions about this poster, contact Rebecca Soliwoda at rls144@pitt.edu.

Development of F.O.R.E.S.T.: Building and Funding a Post-Transition Enrichment Day Program

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OTD Peer Network: Kaylee DeCecchis, Rachel Eilers, Juliana Fellowes, Megan Graybill and Lily Mosley

Faculty Mentor: Ann Marsico, CScD, MOT, OTR/L

Capstone Site: The Woodlands Foundation

Concentration/Focus Area: Home and Community Health/Administration and Management

Abstract: The F.O.R.E.S.T. Program will provide transition services to people with disabilities to promote engagement in the community at a high level and to fulfill their greatest potential. In order for participants to apply and participate in this type of enrichment program through waiver funding, we must ensure that the F.O.R.E.S.T. Program adheres to the requirements specified in PA code 55, Chapter 2380 (Community Participation Supports).

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Identify and utilize criteria for selecting appropriate community partners for a post-transition enrichment program.
  2. Develop a general working understanding of waiver funding and process to become a licensed provider in the state of Pennsylvania.

For questions about this poster, contact Megan Graybill at mag289@pitt.edu.

Development of the WeePASS: A Pediatric Performance- and Occupation-based Assessment 

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OTD Peer Network: Colleen Andris, Cameron Caskey, Anna Marie Clark, Sydney Gabriel and Katherine Maloney

Faculty Mentor: Denise Chisholm, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Capstone Site: UMPC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh: Outpatient Unit

Concentration/Focus Area: Children and Youth/Physical Rehabilitation

Abstract: An assessment tool to measure occupational performance is needed in pediatric occupational therapy to enhance current evaluation processes. This poster describes the development, trialing, and training of the Performance Assessment of Self-care Skills - Pediatric Version (WeePASS) as a solution.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to . . .

  1. Describe the benefits of using the WeePASS, a performance-based, occupation-based pediatric assessment tool.
  2. Discuss data and trends from WeePASS trialing and training.

For questions about this poster, contact Katherine Maloney at kam476@pitt.edu.

Exploring the Efficiency of Healthcare Service and Resource Delivery to Unhoused Individuals in Allegheny County

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OTD Peer Network: Olivia Brooks, Jameson Matunas, Sarah McKendry, Kelsey Newman and Ashley Thompson

Faculty Mentor: Jennifer White CScD, MOT, OTR/L

Capstone Site: Allegheny County Department of Human Services

Concentration/Focus Area: Home and Community Health/Health and Wellness

Abstract: Current access routes to healthcare and related resources for unhoused individuals in Allegheny County are inefficient. We explore the barriers to delivering care and services to this population from the perspective of healthcare and related resource providers in Allegheny County via interviews and uncover attitudes and perceptions towards presently used methods of routing and delivery. Attendees are challenged to consider the impact of inefficiencies in this delivery on patient outcomes.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Identify facilitators and barriers related to both delivering and accessing healthcare and related resources to the population of unhoused individuals in Allegheny County.
  2. Utilize the currently available access routes to healthcare and related resources for those who are unhoused in Allegheny County.

For questions about this poster, contact Olivia Brooks at oab6@pitt.edu.

Implementation of Performance-Based Self-Care Assessments in a Community-Dwelling Population

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OTD Peer Network: Megan Dix, Lauren Dundore, Kelsey Miller, Spencer Sutter and Julia Zezinka

Faculty Mentor: Joanne Baird, PhD, OTR/L, CHSE, FAOTA

Capstone Site: UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital: Outpatient Rehabilitation

Concentration/Focus Area: Mental Health/Home and Community Health

Abstract: Community dwelling individuals with mental health diagnoses can experience "hidden" self-care limitations leading to personal neglect and decreased health outcomes while simultaneously facing gaps in outpatient services. Administration of performance-based assessments is vital in identifying these hidden deficits and implementing effective intervention to better meet the needs of this client population.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Describe the importance of administering a functional self-care assessment within the outpatient psychiatric population and how implementation can lead to increased health outcomes.
  2. Identify how occupational therapy plays a unique and imperative role in the administration and interpretation of assessments related to functional self-care tasks in the outpatient psychiatric population.

For questions about this poster, contact Julia Zezinka at jez34@pitt.edu.

Self-Care Carryover: Implementing a Performance-Based Assessment and Behavioral Activation Strategies with Individuals with Severe Mental Illness to Increase Engagement in Daily Activities

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OTD Peer Network: Alicia Brindle, Madilyn Douglas, Lia de Lyon, Courtney Schneider and Ashley Winkeler

Faculty Mentor: Denise Chisholm, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Capstone Site: UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital: Transitional Recovery Unit (TRU) & Comprehensive Recovery Unit (CRU)

Concentration/Focus Area: Mental Health/Home and Community Health

Abstract: For patients with severe mental illness, there is a gap between capacity to perform self-care tasks and readiness for discharge. To bridge this gap, we propose the inclusion of a performance-based assessment and behavioral activation strategies to target skills and motivational needs to complete daily activities for successful community reintegration.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Describe the clinical utility of the Performance Assessment of Self-care Skills (PASS) as a patient-centered, performance-based tool for assessing occupational performance in an inpatient mental health setting.
  2. Identify and apply evidence-based behavioral activation strategies to increase patients' performance capacity and participation for successful community reintegration.

For questions about this poster, contact Alicia Brindle at alb330@pitt.edu.

Supporting Staff and Caregivers in the NICU through the Development of Supplemental Infant-Driven Feeding Resources 

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OTD Peer Network: Emily Duerr, Jaclyn Pieklo, Kayla Soltis, Anjelica Verner and Jennifer Day

Faculty Mentor: Joanne Baird, PhD, OTR/L, CHSE, FAOTA

Capstone Site: UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Concentration/Focus Area: Children and Youth/Feeding, Eating and Swallowing

Abstract: This poster describes the development of infant-driven feeding (IDF) resources for staff and caregivers which include videos and handouts that support learning. The video and paper-based resources are designed to enhance staff and caregiver knowledge of and comfort with IDF techniques to improve infant oral feeding development and long-term health outcomes.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Identify the knowledge and resources needed for staff and caregivers to implement the infant-driven feeding program on the neonatal intensive care unit.
  2. Describe the development and outcomes of educational resources for staff and caregivers in the areas of positioning/handing, feeding cues/arousal states, nipple flow rate, vital signs, and IDF assessments/scoring.

For questions about this poster, contact Jennifer Day at jld200@pitt.edu.

The Effects of Strategy Training on Participation in Activities of Daily Living within the Geriatric Psychiatric Population 

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OTD Peer Network: Cydnie Bauer, Marisa Mangini, Eric Mercede, Meredith Wright and Caylee Yanes

Faculty Mentor: Ann Marsico, CScD, MOT, OTR/L

Capstone Site: UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital: Integrated Health and Aging Program

Concentration/Focus Area: Productive Aging/Mental Health

Abstract: Following a needs assessment in UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital's Integrated Health and Aging Program, activities of daily living (ADLs) training for staff was identified as the greatest need. Following training, staff were able to utilize a decision tree to assign each patient a level of assistance needed to complete ADLs. According to each level, staff could then utilize correlating strategies to increase patient participation and engagement.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the benefits of staff training to support patient engagement in ADLs in the inpatient psychiatric setting.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the importance of activities of daily living within the inpatient mental health setting.

For questions about this poster, contact Marisa Mangini at mam786@pitt.edu.

University of Pittsburgh Life-skills Independence Functional Therapeutic Screen (UPLIFTS) for Individuals with Developmental Disorders 

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OTD Peer Network: Hannah Brown, Lauren Carman, Laura Lam, Katie Shaw and Amber Shojaie

Faculty Mentor: Kelsey Voltz-Poremba, CScD, MOT, OTR/L

Capstone Site: UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital: Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD)

Concentration/Focus Area: Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities

Abstract: The purpose of this presentation is to address gaps in functional independence using an occupational therapy informed screening tool, University of Pittsburgh Life-skills Independence Functional Therapeutic Screen (UPLIFTS). Participants will be equipped to implement evidence-based strategies and maximize functional independence in individuals with developmental disorders within acute mental health settings.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Interpret an informal screening tool that can be utilized to measure functional life-skills among individuals with developmental disorders.
  2. Apply evidence-based strategies to maximize functional independence in life-skills for individuals with developmental disorders.

For questions about this poster, contact Amber Shojaie at aks119@pitt.edu.

PhD Poster Session

Music Interventions for Early-Stage Cognitive Decline: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 

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Presenter: Jennie Dorris, MM

Authors: Jennie Dorris, MM; Stephen Neely, PhD; Juleen Rodakowski, OTD, MS, OTR/L

Faculty Mentor: Juleen Rodakowski, OTD, MS, OTR/L 

Concentration/Focus Area: Productive Aging/Gerontology

Abstract: Active music-making supports cognitive functioning for older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment, mild, and moderate dementia. The musical activities of 1) singing and/or playing pre-composed songs and/or 2) creating music in the moment were utilized in the protocols. Future music programs should consider inclusion of pre-composed songs, as well as music creation, to better understand the power for music to provide critical support for a rapidly growing segment of the population.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Understand the effects of music on cognition, emotional well-being, and social engagement for older adults with early-stage cognitive decline.
  2. Understand the specific categorized music activities associated with these effects.

For questions about this poster, contact Jennie Dorris at jenniedorris@pitt.edu.

Parent and Child Perception of Sleep for Children with Sensory Processing Difficulties 

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Presenter: Amy Hartman, MS, OTR/L

Authors: Amy Hartman, MS, OTR/L; Adriane Soehner, PhD; Stephen Smagula, PhD; Sarah McKendry, BS; Roxanna Bendixen, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Faculty Mentor: Roxanna Bendixen, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Concentration/Focus Area: Sensory Integration and Processing/Research

Abstract: Sleep is a critical occupation that influences overall health and development in children. Using validated self- and parent-reported sleep questionnaires, we found significantly poorer sleep for children with sensory sensitivities when compared to peers. Parents and children identified specific bedtime supports and behaviors impacting sleep in interviews and questionnaire data. Occupational therapists should regularly assess for sleep concerns for children with sensory sensitivities.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Identify specific differences in sleep characteristics for children with sensory sensitivities compared to peers.
  2. Identify supports parents have identified that can drive occupational therapy intervention to improve sleep.

For questions about this poster, contact Amy Hartman at agh38@pitt.edu.

Real-World Practice of Cognitive Screening and Assessment in Post-Acute Care

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Presenter: Stephanie Rouch, MOT, OTR/L

Authors: Stephanie A. Rouch, MOT, OTR/L; Elizabeth R. Skidmore, PhD, OTR/L; Natalie E. Leland, PhD, OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA, FGSA

Faculty Mentor: Natalie Leland, PhD, OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA, FGSA

Concentration/Focus Area: Rehabilitation and Disability/Cognition

Abstract: Routine cognitive screening and assessment can identify impairments in post-acute care (PAC), but current therapy practice is unknown. We examined electronic medical record documentation from therapy disciplines across PAC settings (i.e., IRF, SNF, HH). Documentation of standardized cognitive assessments was rare, while screening varied across disciplines and settings. Future work can seek to understand opportunities, facilitators, and barriers for cognitive screening and assessment in PAC.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Identify the importance of understanding current practice of cognitive screening and assessment in post-acute care.
  2. Describe current practice of cognitive screening and assessment in post-acute care.

For questions about this poster, contact Stephanie Rouch at sar148@pitt.edu.

Variation and Readiness for Strategy Training in Inpatient Rehabilitation: Phase 1 

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Presenter: Alexandra Harper, MOT, OTR/L

Authors: Alexandra E. Harper, MOT, OTR/L; Minmei Shih, PhD, OTR/L, CSRS, CBIS; Scott Bleakley, MSPT, PhD; Cheryl Miller, OTR/L, DrOT; Elizabeth R. Skidmore, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FACRM

Faculty Mentor: Elizabeth Skidmore, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FACRM

Concentration/Focus Area: Rehabilitation and Disability/Research

Abstract: People with cognitive impairments can engage in and benefit from inpatient rehabilitation using strategy training–a feasible, efficacious, multidisciplinary approach. Yet, widespread strategy training implementation is hindered by variations in organizational culture, provider expertise, and readiness for implementing evidence-based practices. We used mixed methods to characterize these variations to inform strategy training implementation in a national rehabilitation corporation.

Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to...

  1. Discuss the importance of understanding organizational and provider context prior to studying the implementation of an evidence-based practice.
  2. Describe strategies for assessing context prior to implementing an evidence-based practice across a national health system.

For questions about this poster, contact Alexandra Harper at aeh99@pitt.edu.

​For questions regarding this event, please contact the Department of Occupational Therapy at OTpitt@shrs.pitt.edu.