Occupational therapy student presents research

400 guests attend Graduate Student Research Day

Last month, we held our annual Graduate Student Research Day. Nearly 400 people attended in-person to watch our second-year occupational therapy students present their research projects on a range of incredible topics focused on occupation, occupational therapy and occupational science.

Several People’s Choice awards were given out for the best presentation in each of the following categories.

Best Overall Presentation (2) – Jenna Westra & Mahshad Ashraf-Zadeh, “Co-creating a concussion education toolkit for Special Olympics Canada athletes” and Sophie Weaver & Larissa Chan, “A Cross-Sectional Study on the Participation of Children with Congenital Hand and Upper Limb Differences: Psychological, social, and physical determinants”

Occupational Science/Therapy Award – Souraiya Kassam & Emi Wong, “Identifying success indicators of discharge to community care and self-management within young adults with chronic pain: A qualitative descriptive study”

Aging and Caregiving Award – Saghar Baqizada & Bradley Wilson, “The influence of Dharmic religious practices at the End-of-Life: A scoping review”

Quality of Life Award – Emily DeHaan & Hannah Eborall, “Behind the Camera: A scoping review on using photo methods in research with people with Intellectual Disabilities”

Mental/Brain Health Award – Briana Bortolin & Anna Colebatch, “Yoga as a modality in occupational therapy for adults with mood disorders: A systematic review”

Pediatrics Award – Shazeen Alam & Sandy Brassel, “Evaluating the effects of the i_SibworkS virtual cognitive-behavioural program on social support in siblings of children with disabilities”

Musculoskeletal (MSK)/Upper Limb Award – Allyson Hodder & Isabelle Bhola, “Examining Clinician Experiences Using the Web Based Version of the Prosthetic Upper Limb Functional Index (PUFI-2) in Clinical Use”

Cognition and Everyday Life Award – Vanessa Fan & Anna Krosinski, “Out-of-home experiences of people with dementia”

Health Services and Supports Award – Vania Wu, “Aligning ‘cultural humility’ to occupational therapy practice: A scoping review”

Technology and Environment Award – Tetyana Ali & Amira Hegazi, “Exploring the child and family experience of the Clinical Brain Computer Interface Program”

Student research award winners with professor Nick Reed.

Thelma Cardwell Lecture

In the afternoon, we held our annual Thelma Cardwell Lecture. This year’s keynote speaker was Prof. Carrie Anne Marshall, assistant professor, School of Occupational Therapy, Western University whose research focuses on intersections between poverty and mental well-being with a particular focus on homelessness among persons living with mental illness and substance use disorders. The title of Prof. Marshall’s talk was “Time use and well-being in an age of inequity: A call to action for occupational therapy.“

Prof. Marshall delivered a thought-provoking lecture emphasizing the need for poverty and homelessness to be in the purview of occupational therapy. She noted that “homelessness and inadequate housing affect how a person can participate in meaningful activities, and how they are able to function in their daily lives.”

Prof. Marshall urged occupational therapists to take action by advocating for evidence-based approaches and listening to and working with people with lived experience with homelessness.

The Thelma Cardwell Annual Lecture was established in 1997 under the leadership of Judith Friedland, by the friends and family of Thelma Cardwell, her professional colleagues, and the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation to honour one of occupational therapy’s most prestigious alumna, Thelma Cardwell.

Professor Carrie Anne Marshall gives keynote presentation

Alumni Achievement Awards

This year at Graduate Student Research Day, we gave out an all-time record of four alumni achievement awards. These awards recognize alumni of the occupational therapy program who exemplify excellence in education, practice, scholarly activity and service.

Ellen Yack (Class ‘79) is the recipient of this year’s Legacy Alumni Achievement Award. Today, Ellen is the Director of Ellen Yack and Associates, serving in both management and direct service provider roles. The business now employs 12 occupational therapy associates delivering services to children and their families. Ellen has shown commitment to ongoing professional development and education and shares her knowledge of the day to day lived experiences of families, the issues that arise in the range of everyday occupational environments of children and current literature and scholarship through various parent and teacher workshops.

Emily Ho (Class of ‘97) is the recipient of the Mid-Career Alumni Achievement Award. Emily has been an Occupational Therapist at The Hospital for Sick Children since 2001, where she holds clinical and research appointments. She has demonstrated her commitment to lifelong learning and education. After graduating from the BScOT program, she completed an MEd in Developmental Psychology and Education, and later a PhD, and now works in our department as an assistant professor where she has supervised several MScOT students. In 2020, Emily received the Award for Excellence in Research Supervision recognizing her commitment to going above and beyond to inspire and challenge her students. Throughout her career, Emily has also published 30 research papers with a focus on upper extremity function and participation in young people with musculoskeletal conditions.

Jennifer Ho (Class of ‘06) is a recipient of the Mid-Career Alumni Achievement Award. Jennifer exemplifies the areas of service and practice in occupational therapy through numerous achievements and roles throughout her career in the public sector. In her current role as a director at Ontario Health, she has supported the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care with pandemic planning and implementation of emergency services. Jennifer is also an active board member at Autism Canada, where she advocates for proper access to funding and resources for individuals on the spectrum.

Jenni Diamond (Class ‘17) is the recipient of this year’s Early Career Alumni Achievement Award. After graduating, Jenni joined the Neurology Centre of Toronto (NCT) as their first occupational therapist where she developed and implemented a new program for concussion rehabilitation. Since then, Jenni has become the director of the occupational therapy program where she oversees a team of five other occupational therapists. Jenni also helped create NCT’s Concussion Care Team – an interdisciplinary team with expertise in concussion rehabilitation and management. In the short time since Jenni’s graduation, she and her team have provided services to thousands of patients recovering from concussion and persistent concussion symptoms.

Alumni Achievement Award winners Ellen, Emily, Jennifer and Jenni