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Professor Publishes Research of the Impact of Occupational Therapists During COVID-19

By Nicole Carrera

Published on June 15, 2020

Wendy Walsh PhD, OTR/LWendy Walsh PhD, OTR/L, chair of the USciences Department of Occupational Therapy, has been published by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The article, titled “Occupational Therapy’s Role in Times of Disaster: Addressing Periods of Occupational Disruption,”was written in collaboration with Rondalyn Varney Whitney, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, director of faculty development and scholarship at West Virginia University’s School of Medicine. 

The article explores the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and other occupational disruptions, and how occupational therapy as a field plays a role in these situations using two case examples to demonstrate these points. 

Drs. Walsh and Whitney examined the case of a 76-year-old patient who is hospitalized after a fall at home. While treating his physical injuries, the OT professional also helped the patient learn how to virtually connect with friends and family via FaceTime during times of social distancing guidelines. 

They also studied parents at home with their children due to stay at home orders. One of the children previously required OT care, and as a result of the orders no longer had access to care. The OT professional in this case was able to help both parents and the child via virtual sessions, catering to the needs of the child while teaching the parents how to best take care of themselves in this challenging new time. 

Ultimately, the article demonstrates how occupational therapy professionals are essential in times of disaster, highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis. Occupational therapy considers the client in the context of their lives and systematically addresses chaos, turning it into order as the situation allows. This improves coping and decreases stress which can have detrimental effects on one's health status. Drs. Walsh and Whitney emphasize how the distinct skills that occupational therapy professionals possess are essential when assembling disaster preparedness teams and vital in response situations.

Categories: News, Samson College of Health Sciences, Department of Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Faculty, Publication