Category Archives: alumni

All news posts relevant to the Clinical Community & Alumni section of the website.

Dr. Patty Rigby Awarded 2018 CAOT Life Membership

Congratulations to Dr. Patty Rigby, who has just been honoured with the 2018 Life Membership Award from the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the profession of Occupational Therapy in research, practice and teaching.

Patty obtained a Diploma in Occupational Therapy from the University of Alberta in 1976, her MHSc from McMaster University in 1991 and her PhD in Health Sciences from Utrecht University, in the Netherlands, in 2009.  She joined the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy (OS&OT) in 1994. Upon her retirement in 2017, she was awarded Professor Emeritus status, in recognition of her long service and exemplary leadership.

Patty’s research was critical in the development and advancement of one of the most widely recognized OT practice models, the Person-Environment-Occupation (PEO) model, which recognizes the importance of environment as a contributor to occupational performance and health. Through her own research, practice and writing of textbook materials, she also contributed to a ground-breaking shift in our occupational lens: transforming it to encompass and promote the development of children’s ‘play’ as a meaningful occupation, developmental process, and outcome of importance. Her work helped uncover the value in children’s playfulness, influencing the focus and development of future treatment programs and evaluation tools. She has contributed extensively to the literature and evidence base for occupational therapy, producing many peer-reviewed articles and book chapters over the course of her career.

Dr. Rigby is a highly skilled instructor. Her teaching methods and content expertise are greatly valued by students in both the OS&OT program and Rehabilitation Sciences Institute. She was the Graduate Coordinator of UofT’s new MScOT program, from its inception in 2000 until 2007. Her efforts led to the Department awarding her its 2007 Excellence in Service Award. She also oversaw the development of the Student Affairs Committee (SAC), which administers recruitment and admissions, student awards and bursaries, the student handbook, student resources and supports, convocation awards and career preparation sessions for our graduating students.

In her clinician and clinical researcher roles, Patty made significant clinical contributions to pediatric practice during her time at Holland Bloorview, where she worked from 2005 to 2013. Her work has led to advancements in the development and evaluation of assistive technology for children with physical disabilities, which in turn, facilitates their engagement in daily life. As a valued Senior Scientist at Holland Bloorview for 8 years, Patty was awarded their highest honour, the Circle of Honour Award, in 2008.

Beginning in 2011, Dr. Rigby assumed leadership of the OS & OT Department’s alumni relations at U of T, despite earning all her degrees from other universities. Through her organization of events and oversight of media broadcasts, she has been responsible for attracting greater interest and involvement of alumni. She created an alumni page within the Departmental website to profile OT alumni achievements and assembled groups of alumni to plan and organize events, resulting in more active engagement of OT alumni in the Department’s affairs and alumni networking. Patty continues to take a leadership role in planning and organizing events and activities to celebrate the centenary of occupational therapy education at the University of Toronto throughout 2018. Her mentoriship of others through these service activities, and her teaching and research, has been extraordinary.

Dr. Rigby is truly a gift to our profession. Her work and personal influence has been and continues to be important to the development and advancement of occupational therapy, both within Canada, and on an international level.

We could not be happier or more proud to celebrate the achievements of this worthy recipient of CAOT’s Life Membership Award!

Photo of students from Physical and Occupational Therapy Program, graduating 1967

POT Class of ’67 Funds a Landmark Bench

Leading up to the 50th anniversary of their graduation from U of T’s physical and occupational therapy program, several members of the class of 1967 proposed coming together in support of a Landmark Project bench. The Landmark Project, the most significant landscape project of the past century, will revitalize the University’s historic core by creating dynamic, open spaces for the university and wider communities to come together. Read the full story at http://uoft.me/POTlandmark.

Class Of '97 Reunion

Class of ’97 Reunion

On November 4, 2017, a reunion was held for the Class of 1997. The first class to graduate in the fall, the students were in what was called the “2+2+ program” (two years undergrad plus 2 years plus in OT). It was a way of restructuring the program in preparation for the MScOT which was phased in a few years later.

Nominations for Alumni Achievement Awards

Nominations are now open for the University of Toronto PT & OT 2018 Alumni Achievement Awards.

The Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Alumni Achievement Awards recognize and celebrate outstanding alumni who have made exceptional contributions in their professions. The awards will be presented by the PT & OT Alumni Association at Alumni Reunion in June.

Nominations are due by 12:00 pm on March 15, 2018.

Download the nomination package to learn more about the awards, process and documentation required for submissions.

Thank you in advance for your thoughtful contributions.
 
Additional information >>

Linda Petty and Sarah Ko

Alumnus Receives Funding to Review AT Interventions

Congratulations to Linda Petty (BScOT ’80, MScOT candidate) and co-investigator Sarah Ko, recipients of the 2017 OSOT Research Fund Occupational Therapy Research Grant for their study “Assistive technology accommodations for post-secondary students with mental health disabilities: A scoping review.” This review will map the literature regarding AT interventions to support young adults with mental health disabilities in post-secondary institutions such as universities and colleges. The investigators anticipate that results will identify gaps for future research, demonstrate the value and feasibility of undertaking a full systematic review and encourage more occupational therapists to assume innovative and leadership roles as subject matter expert professionals in prescribing and recommending AT accommodations to young adults with mental health disabilities.
 
Petty, the Assistive Technology Consultant at UTSC’s Accessibility Services, is from the first cohort set to graduate from our MScOT Advanced Standing Program this November. Sarah Ko (MScOT, Queens University) is the Practicum and Professional Development Officer in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at University of Toronto.

Jade and Mallory Ryan

Dance Ability Movement Helps Fulfill Kids’ Dreams

The Ryan Sisters are truly inspirational! OS&OT Alumni, they have used their occupational therapy expertise and passion for dance to develop Dance Ability Movement which provides inclusive dance programs for all children.
 
 
It is the dream of many young children to learn to dance, and children’s dance classes are immensely popular. However, children with disabilities often face barriers to participation in dance. This is why the work that the Ryan Sisters do through The Dance Ability Movement is truly inspirational. They use their passion for dance and their skills and knowledge as occupational therapists to develop safe, inclusive dance classes for children of all abilities. The Ryan sisters and The Dance Ability Movement were recently profiled by CTV Toronto.

Mallory and Jade have danced all of their lives and both shared the dream that they could combine their enthusiasm for dance with their chosen careers in occupational therapy (OT). They recognized the limited opportunities for children with different abilities to participate in dance classes in their home community so they formed Dance Ability, a dance program tailored for children of all abilities. The first class commenced in 2010 at a local studio in Milton, Ontario with a team of volunteers providing 1:1 support and assistance for a small group of children with various needs. With growing demands and recognition of their services, Mallory and Jade officially launched their own business, The Dance Ability Movement, with the goal of “sharing the opportunity to dance with dancers of all abilities on a large scale and continuing to promote inclusivity and participation in the community for people with different needs”. The program is currently active in six host studios in the Greater Toronto Area, and more studios are being considered. The Ryan Sisters have no difficulty in recruiting volunteers, many of whom are dancers themselves who wish to share their love of dance with young aspiring dancers.

Aside from providing opportunities to participate in dance classes, The Dance Ability Movement offers summer programs to address various OT goals. For example, Set the Stage Camp combines a handwriting program with music and dance to assist pre-school and primary age children to develop their school readiness and specific motor skills. Art Expressions Camp provides participants a safe space to explore dance styles as well as other art forms and means of self-expression.

Mallory and Jade are currently pursuing various goals and future initiatives including the following:

  • Supporting schools in Toronto to include Dance Ability Movement dancers in their arts nights and talent shows, plus encouraging schools to offer more movement and dance opportunities for these students as part of their curriculum.
  • Exploring the role of dance as more than just a leisure occupation, but as a potential vocation for some of the dancers with disabilities who participate in The Dance Ability Movement programs who have the talent and passion to pursue dance further.
  • Providing more programming and support systems to keep youth with different needs engaged as active members in their communities.

They also feel honored to have been recently selected as “Agents of Change for Community Health” through the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, and are currently pursuing various goals and future initiatives including the following:

  • Aligning their model with existing OT models and theories to better advocate for community leisure programs and the importance of addressing the environment and societal perspectives to meet everyone’s needs

Mallory and Jade also maintain close ties with the MScOT program at University of Toronto by participating in various labs and delivering guest lectures to educate and inspire future generations of OTs. Through The Dance Ability Movement, Mallory and Jade are making important contributions towards creating community environments where inclusion of children with varying abilities is the norm. Their programs provide opportunities to enable children to express themselves through dance and other art forms, and to realize their potential.

Alumni Promoting OT & PT in Ukraine

Natalie Zaraska and Renata Roman, alumni of the Rehabilitation Sciences Sector at U of T, are working in the Ukraine to assist in the development of Masters level curriculum and to promote best practices in occupational and physical therapy.

Natalie Zaraska (nee Talya Kalymon)
BScOT’91

Natalie Zaraska is working hard to promote and help rehabilitation practice in Ukraine to evolve and grow. She explained that “as a member of the diaspora in Canada, I have always wanted to assist in development projects in Ukraine.” In addition to her BScOT from UofT, Natalie completed a Master’s of Rehabilitation Science from Queen’s in 1997. Natalie has worked in the area of mental health and acquired brain injury. She now works at Zaraska Rehabilitation, a private practice, providing community-based rehabilitation services to individuals with acquired brain injuries.

Natalie embodies a client centered approach and is passionate about the essential role OTs offer in the rehabilitation spectrum of care. Natalie is an ardent advocate, promoting, educating, and helping to develop the role of occupational therapy in rehabilitation in Ukraine. Natalie volunteers as an International Educational Coordinator for School of Rehabilitation Medicine at Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) and is a founding member of the Ukrainian association of Occupational Therapy. Natalie also works with the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) to ensure Ukraine adopts recognized standards for education and the practice of occupational therapy.

Natalie believes U of T provided her with a strong academic background and inspired her to support high quality education programs in Ukraine. U of T helped Natalie become a leader and problem solver, and encouraged her to define and expand the role of occupational therapy in new areas.

Renata Roman
BScPT’84

Renata is a graduate of the U of T Physical Therapy program. She has worked in hospitals and clinics in Ontario and Quebec. She began her first private practice, Clarkson Sports & Physio, in Missisauga in 1991. Renata has been volunteering as a physiotherapist in sports medicine in Ukraine for 20 years and has worked with national teams and at the Winter Olympics. She has also given her time fundraising and advising the Children’s Rehab Centre in Lviv. The founder and president of the Ukrainian Catholic University asked Renata to help establish a western style rehabilitation program including physical and occupational therapy. This school was established within the university and she continues to sit on the Board of Governors.

Renata believes that U of T provided her with the education and tools to become an efficient problem solver when faced with a variety of complex patients. She is passionate about growing and evolving as a physiotherapist as well as helping countries with less established rehabilitation programs develop their professional standards and enhance their quality of care.

Advocacy & Innovation:

Renata and Natalie have combined their passion for rehabilitation to promote and enhance the role of physical and occupational therapy in Ukraine. Ukraine does not have the profession of occupational therapy, but Renata and Natalie believe in the integral role and value of OT to patients. Natalie is working alongside WFOT to promote OT to medical and government administrators.

Renata and Natalie are inspired to “raise the bar” for rehabilitation education and high quality patient care throughout Ukraine. They are assisting the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) to develop the curriculums for a Masters in PT and Masters in OT to be offered in September 2017. UCU is a forward thinking university working to exhibit the highest standards of education.

Renata and Natalie advise on the recruitment of potential rehabilitation students, and assist with the ongoing promotion of physical and occupational therapy. The UCU curriculum is being carefully developed with input from many international partners. Renata and Natalie have also created a working group of rehabilitation professionals in Toronto to provide consultation to UCU and future mentoring of students in the program. UCU hopes to stay closely connected to the faculty in the rehabilitation programs at U of T to support program development and implementation, and research initiatives for students and professors.

The classic pairing of physical and occupational therapy has proven once more to yield the best possible outcomes. Through their initiatives, Renata and Natalie are changing the rehabilitation landscape in Ukraine and Canada for students, practitioners, and patients.