Category Archives: news

Current news in OS & OT

Virtual Fieldwork Webinar Week, June 1-5

The department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is thrilled to welcome you to Virtual Fieldwork Webinar Week!  The Year 2 MScOT students have completed their fieldwork block “virtually” and are excited to share their experiences with you.

From June 1 to June 5, students will present their projects and tele-rehab initiatives every day from 12pm – 1pm.  Themes for presentations include: Telerehabilitation and Occupational Therapy, Occupation and Sport, OTs as Educators, The Complex Brain… and many more.

View the attached schedule of multiple webinar options each day next week.  Simply click the link to the topic of your choice and you will be able to view three or four amazing presentations over your lunch hour.  Feel free to share this post and invite your colleagues to join!

Date Topics Schedule
Monday, June 1 The Complex Brain:Acquired Brain Injury & Intellectual Disability; Occupation and Sport 1; Professional Education Download schedule with virtual presentation links
Tuesday, June 2 Occupation and Sport 2; OTs and Pediatrics 1; OTs and Pediatrics 2 Download schedule with virtual presentation links
Wednesday, June 3 Education, Dissemination and Evaluation Beyond Our Front Door; Telerehabilitation and OT Download schedule with virtual presentation links
Thursday, June 4 OTs as Educators; Advocates and Policy Change Agents; OTs in Emerging Areas of Practice Download schedule with virtual presentation links
Friday, June 5 OTs and Pediatrics 3; OTs in Community Mental Health; Enabling Occupation with Older Adults Download schedule with virtual presentation links

“We’ve gOT Your Back: The Ergo Minute” Podcast Series

You’re invited to tune in to a new podcast called “We’ve gOT Your Back: The Ergo Minute,” hosted by University of Toronto MScOT students Julia Giancola and Madison Lazarou. Julia and Madison will bring you advice from U of T experts on how to apply ergonomic strategies in your home office, so that you can work more comfortably and productively, and reduce the risk of stress and injury on your body.

There are four podcasts addressing different issues: Be sure to check them all out!


Podcast #1: What do healthy tissues need?

The topic for this podcast is “What Do Healthy Tissues Need?” You will learn about how your tissues (i.e., muscles, joints, ligaments, nerves) are impacted when working from home, what tissues need in order to stay healthy, and some practical strategies you can implement while working from home.

This episode was created in collaboration with Dr. Sharon Switzer-McIntyre, Associate Professor and Program Director in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto.

Sources:
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: https://www.ontario.ca/page/ergonomics-workplace
Canadian Activity Guidelines: https://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_adults_en.pdf
Nowrouzi-Kia, B. (2019). Joint Motion and Tissue Stress [PowerPoint Slides].

 


Podcast #2: Creative home setups

The topic for this podcast is “Creative Home Setups.”  You will learn about proper body positioning, risk factors that may contribute to injury, and creative and no-cost home setup ideas you can implement to help you work more safely and productively at home.

This episode was created in collaboration with Pat McKee, Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto.

Sources:
Switched onto Safety: http://switchedontosafety.com/ergonomics-in-the-workplace-2/
Posturite: https://www.posturite.co.uk/webinars/2020-webinars/working-from-home-quick-fixes
Taylor’d Ergonomics Incorporated. (n.d.). Ergonomics and Home Offices [PowerPoint Slides].


Podcast #3: Eyestrain & lighting while using electronic interfaces

The topic for this podcast is “Eyestrain & Lighting While Using Electronic Interfaces.”  You will learn about blue light and how it affects your eyes, risk factors that may be contributing to your eyestrain or tiredness, and some practical strategies you can implement to help protect your eyes when working from home.

Sources:
The Canadian Association of Optometry: https://opto.ca/health-library/the-20-20-20-rule
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: https://www.ccohs.ca/products/courses/office_ergonomics/
Blue Light Exposed: http://www.bluelightexposed.com/#what-is-blue-light


Podcast #4: Work-life balance and restorative sleep

The topic for this podcast is “Work-life Balance and Restorative Sleep.”  You will learn about the importance of work-life balance and restorative sleep, tips on how to integrate work-life balance into your daily routine, and strategies to help you achieve better sleep quality and consistency. These strategies will help you find the right fit between your goals and daily tasks, which will contribute to overall feelings of happiness, productivity and satisfaction while working from home.

This episode was created in collaboration with Marina Rezkalla, OT Reg. (Ont.), a University of Toronto alumnus who currently works on a family health team and Judith Mendoza, OT Reg. (Ont.), who runs a private practice specializing in mental health and insomnia treatment.

Sources:
https://www.camh.ca/en/camh-news-and-stories/achieving-work-life-balance
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01059-4
https://www.ccohs.ca/products/posters/pdfs/mentalFitness.pdf
https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-guidelines-covid-19-isolation

Corkhill, B., Hemmings, J., Maddock, A., & Riley, J. (2014). Knitting and Well-being, Textile, 12 (1), 34-57. doi: 10.2752/175183514×13916051793433

Manber, R., & Carney, C. E. (2015). Treatment plans and interventions for insomnia: a case formulation approach. Guilford Publications.

Suetsugi, M., Mizuki, Y., Ushijima, I., & Watanabe, Y. (2002). The relationship between rhythmic activities during a mental task and sleep spindles: a correlative analysis. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry, 26(4), 631-637. doi:10.1016/S0278-5846(01)00216-0


Podcast #1: What do healthy tissues need?

Podcast #2: Creative home setups

Podcast #3: Eyestrain & lighting while using electronic interfaces

Podcast #4: Work-life balance and restorative sleep

Listen to the podcast Listen to the podcast Listen to the podcast Listen to the podcast
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Information for Applicants to MScOT Program re COVID-19

We are pleased to inform all current applicants to the MScOT program that there has been no impact on our admission review process, though some ORPAS dates for the notification of application decisions have changed. We have been working closely with our university partners through OUAC-ORPAS to ensure the timely release of admission decisions by a reasonable date.

Check here for regular updates on applications.

Tenure Stream Position in OS&OT, Neurological or Mental Health

The Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto invites applications for one tenure-stream appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor. The anticipated start date will be September 1, 2020.

We are seeking candidates with programs of research in occupational science or occupational therapy focused on neurological and/or mental health conditions affecting children and youth, older adults, or populations across the lifespan. The successful candidate’s scholarship will situate occupation as a key determinant of health and well-being across their program of research and creative professional activities, and will complement our existing departmental strengths.

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Indigenous / Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

Visit the University of Toronto Careers Website for full details, including links to apply.

Application Deadline: May 26, 2020, 11:59 pm EDT

Photo of hands on laptop

Prof. Pat McKee on safe home office practices

“With the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in the need for social distancing, working from home has become the new normal for many people. But how do we make sure we’re not putting stress on our bodies in our makeshift home offices?”

Associate Professor Emerita Pat McKee was asked by the Toronto Star to give some tips on safe home office practices (especially if you’re using a laptop):

1. Raise your monitor
2. Select an appropriate keyboard, and other keyboard tips
3. Get comfy
4. Take breaks
5. Listen to your body
6. Understand the risks (of sitting too long in an un-comfy position)

Read the story in the Toronto Star, Six tips to make sure your makeshift office doesn’t injure you, April 8, 2020, by Tom Yun and Miriam Lafontaine

Message from Unity Health Toronto regarding placements

Re: Placement pause for non-paid and pre-licensure clinical learners will continue until Monday 6th July 2020

Download message from Beverly Bulmer, Vice-president of Education at the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre

Dear Academic Partners,

Thank you for your support as the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved.

As per our communication on March 16th, we paused all placements for non-paid and pre-licensure clinical learners until April 4th. At this time, based on the increasing demands on our resources and people, and ensuring we are aligning ourselves with our partners, TAHSN hospital education leadership have collectively agreed to continue with this placement pause until Monday, 6th July. We kindly ask that you communicate this message to your students and placement coordinators.

In recent weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented desire for virtual solutions and hospitals have swiftly shifted their practices to include virtual care interfaces for patient interactions, where appropriate. As hospitals gain stability in some areas, there may be opportunities for clinical learners enrolled in academic programs to gain clinical experience in alignment with their learning goals through virtual means. We will keep you informed if such opportunities arise.

Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Thank you for your patience and continued partnership during this extraordinary time.

Regards, Bev

Teaching Stream Position in OS&OT, Educational Innovation & Fieldwork

The Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto invites applications for one full-time teaching stream appointment in the area of educational innovation & fieldwork. The appointment will be at the rank of Assistant Professor. The expected start date is July 1, 2020 or shortly thereafter.

We are seeking candidates with scholarship and experience in educational development and innovation, and occupational therapy fieldwork education. The successful candidate will demonstrate evidence of developing educational programmatic offerings, technological innovations in pedagogy, excellence in teaching, achievements in educational scholarship, and effective professional leadership within the occupational therapy community.

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons/persons of colour, women, Indigenous/Aboriginal Peoples of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ+ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

Visit the University of Toronto Careers Website for additional details, including links to apply.

MScOT Alumni in the News

Two grads from the Class of 2019 made news in recent months, highlighting the role occupational therapists play across diverse practice settings.

Adaptive dance classes at Steffen Dance Studio in Mount Pearl, NL are spearheaded by Hilary Walsh. Walsh brings her experience as both an OT and a longtime dance teacher to create an inclusive environment for students across age groups and  ability. Walsh explains:

Mainly the difference is that I structure it so that dancers can feel success with kind of everything that they do. So it might mean, for some groups, making things very step by step. For some it might be using a visual schedule, for others it might be doing the dance seated.

“The best place to be is here, dancing, and it’s so much fun, dancing with all my friends and having a really good time. And of course Miss Hilary is the most awesomest teacher ever, and we love her to the moon and back,” says dance student Michael Robson.

Read the full story from CBC News (December 18, 2019)

Faith Gallant is a member of the ED One Team at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. This  multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals – including a social worker, geriatric emergency medicine nurse, physiotherapist, and community care coordinator among others – are tackling “hallway medicine” by reducing emergency department admission rates among seniors.

“The team helps patients who come to the emergency room avoid being admitted to the hospital by ensuring adequate supports are available for them at home or in the community.  Its target group is those aged 70 and older who don’t need to be admitted, but who can’t otherwise go home safely straight from the emergency room,” reports CBC News’ Mike Crawley.

States Gallant:

We’re able to see patients in the evening and facilitate a safe discharge home instead of having these patients stay overnight.

Read the full story from CBC News (February 13, 2020)


Robin Mazumder (MScOT ’11) was featured on CBC’s Sunday Edition with Michael Enright on February 14: It’s a fundamental human right to be able to access your city, says researcher.

Photo of Robin Mazumder

City life can be hard on the nerves — the noise, the lights, the bustle, the endless miles of glass and concrete. And the traffic — just crossing the street can be a terrifying experience with hulking vehicles hurtling down thoroughfares. Robin Mazumder is a PhD student in cognitive neuroscience, and he researches the toll that bad urban design takes on human psychology — and how urban spaces could be made into sources of delight and solace instead of stress.

Mazumber is currently a doctoral candidate in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo, where he is studying the connection between urban design and mental well-being.

PT & OT Alumni Achievement Award Nominations: February 28 Deadline

The year 2020 marks the 24th anniversary of the Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Alumni Achievement Awards. The PT and OT Alumni Achievement Awards, first awarded in June 1996, acknowledge graduates who have made exceptional contributions as members of the Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy professions. Alumni or members of the public may nominate a University of Toronto graduate in Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy for this award. Each year, one alumnus from Physical Therapy and one alumnus from Occupational Therapy receive the award at the Alumni Reunion held in June.

The February 28 deadline for the 2020 PT & OS&OT Alumni Achievement Award Nominations is approaching fast!

To submit a nomination, download and complete a Nomination Package from the PT-OT Alumni Association website.  Nominations will be accepted until 12:00 noon on February 28.

Contact ptotalumni.facmed@utoronto.ca for more information.

Photo of Yani Hamdani

Prof. Yani Hamdani addresses need for university services for women with autism

Prof. Yani Hamdani is featured in a story in Ryerson University’s paper The Ryersonian about autism in women attending university:

“As of 2013, anyone who was given an Asperger syndrome diagnosis is considered to have Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) instead. Practitioners can no longer officially diagnose an individual with Asperger syndrome, the developmental disorder characterised by significant difficulties in social interaction as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests.

Not all people like the term ASD or that it is positioned as a medical disorder. Some prefer the terms “autism” or “on the autism spectrum” instead. Autism is a developmental disorder of variable severity that is characterized by difficulty in social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behaviour. There are stigmas that get associated with the term which have created tensions and various approaches to providing proper support and health care.

According to Yani Hamdani, an assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto and a Clinician-Scientist at the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre at CAMH, “there was a desire to reflect the wide range of ways that autism presents in individuals — it’s a spectrum. It was difficult to distinguish between some of the diagnostic criteria for similar and related diagnoses.”

Along with the potential for blurred lines as to where people sit on this spectrum, there are other factors that make it complicated to navigate exactly where you fit in.

Some of these complications differ depending on your gender. Girls are typically known to be better at hiding autistic traits and mimicking their peers to fit in, which is why they often — more so than boys — get overlooked, misdiagnosed or left with no diagnosis at all. More research is coming out which shows “masking” or “camouflaging” traits are not solely girl-specific though; some boys and men also camouflage and some don’t camouflage at all.

One of the reasons that girls are less likely to be diagnosed with autism than boys is because this ability to mask their traits well makes them appear neurotypical, so they slip under the diagnostic radar, so much so that some are left undiagnosed until adulthood.

“The most commonly reported male:female ratio of autism diagnosis is 4:1,” Hamdani said. “Researchers in Canada, U.K. and the U.S. are exploring if there is a female ‘version’ of autism, or if the characteristics for diagnosis are expressed differently in girls.”

Other research, like Hamdani’s own, explores if there are gender differences in the experiences of autism. “For example, girls may be socialized differently than boys and may be more adept at learning social skills in order to ‘fit in.’”

Continue reading the full article, Autism in females may be harder to spot and diagnose, but they still need adequate university services and support, by Sami Chasonoff (January 20, 2020).