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!