SUPER Kelan and his SUPER team

Image Source

By Hope Smith, OTAS, and Dustin Patterson, OTAS

Everyone meet Kelan! A very special boy with an even more special story to tell.

Mom and Dad, the Masinelli’s, knew Kelan was special from the moment they found out they were pregnant. They added a special sunroom for all his toys and the excitement continued to grow as they enjoyed 3 baby showers for their new bouncing boy.

Kelan was born on July 14, 2007 at 6:04 P.M. with no complications during labor or delivery. Mom, Jamie, says on her blog, “Both of us had anticipated this moment with excitement for years but never imagined how seeing Kelan for the first time would open up our hearts.”

This beautiful baby boy was everything they could have asked for.  He was playful and strong.  The Masinelli’s couldn’t wait to enjoy the new family life they had received.

Then, just 4 ½ months later their world was turned upside down.  Kelan was diagnosed with Lissencephaly on December 10th after a week of seizures with no explanation.

Like most of you reading this, mom and dad had no clue what that was or what it held for their new child. In general terms, Lissencephaly is a rare genetic condition that develops when the fetus is 12-14 weeks old. This cannot be reversed and treatment aims to support and comfort the family and the child.

The life expectancy for a child with this condition varies but children with severe Lissencephaly only live to be about 10 years old. Some symptoms of Lissencephaly are difficulty feeding, muscle spasms, seizures, trouble swallowing and intellectual impairment.

Learn More about Lissencephaly

Kelan's Family

Kelan’s Family

Jamie told me, “When the Dr. came to tell us what was wrong we hardly heard a word he said. Just that our son would never walk or talk or sit-up on his own.”

This, as you can imagine, would be hard for any parent to hear.  After digesting the information, the Masinelli’s decided they were not going to let this conquer their life.  They decided that no matter what, they were going to give Kelan the best possible life that they could.

Throughout the years there have been many tough times including hundreds of hospital visits, countless sleepless nights, and many different medications.  The struggles have been hard and his mom said, “This is not the life that we thought it would be but Kelan has made us the best versions of ourselves.”

Kelan experiences very frequent seizures (about 50 a day) and respiratory issues; he is also non-verbal.

Kelan started receiving Occupational Therapy on Feb 4th of 2008, which he continues now to help him with his developmental milestones. Even though there are lots of hard times, the good times make it all worth it.  Kelan makes the best out of every day!

Though he cannot speak, he loves the color red.  Balloons make him so happy and his little sister, Riley (7), makes him even happier.  Over the years Kelan has grown a huge following.  Everyone wants to help this super boy out!

Community members, organizations, family, and friends gathered together to make “A place for Kelan” which is an outdoor oasis that is safe for the family and Kelan to enjoy together. This hard work and dedication created one of Kelan’s favorite spots!

Visit Kelan’s Facebook Page

This was just the beginning of their journey! The Masinelli’s then set on their way with the Make a Wish Foundation to give back to the community while also helping Kelan.

They teamed up to create a wheelchair swing to go into a local park so that not only can Kelan enjoy, but other children in wheelchairs can enjoy as well!

Follow the Kelan’s Swing Progress

Kelan's Visit

Kelan’s Visit

The OTA program here at Lewis and Clark Community College was lucky enough to have the chance to meet Kelan, his home nurse, his OT Practitioner and his mother and father.

This experience was heartwarming to all of us.  Even though Kelan was nonverbal we learned a lot of things about him.  Like, he loves the color red, balloons and being with his sister makes him so happy. In just a short time, he has already made an impact on all of us!

The trials this family faces every day are tiring and some days may seem impossible but with the help of his Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Nurses, amazing family, and friends, Kelan has surpassed his life expectancy and this family continues to hope for more memories to come!

Kelan is sure to touch anyone’s life that he encounters.  He is more than just his diagnosis. Kelan is strong, handsome, and more importantly a hero.

As his mother says, “I know what unconditional love is, and it is Kelan.”


OTA Students Compete for Fall Fest!

Earlier this fall, the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) students at Lewis and Clark Community College (L&C), split up into three different teams to come up with a creative way to promote OT at the fall fest!

The idea was to have a catchy theme with three different activities to show other students what occupational therapy was all about.

1. Team OT!

This group had a game night theme. There was an obstacle course that included taking off a shirt with gloves to stimulate decreased sensitivity and wearing glasses with blurred vision to stimulate a vision impairment.

The second activity was a Yardzee game. The person would roll the dice and depending on what number was chosen, the person would do a certain task with a disability. The third activity was a “The Price Is Right” game. The individual had to guess what the adaptive equipment was and how much it cost.

Team OT

Team OT: Amanda, Katelyn, Rachel, Hope, Paula, Hannah and Ashley

2. The Great OuTdoors!

This team’s theme was about how occupational therapy can help people with an illness or injury still be active and engaged in the outdoors.

The first activity was a timed game to see how many sticks could be picked up with a reacher. This represented older adults who are not able to bend over and pick items up as easily anymore.

The second activity was a sleep-bag race which represented the community who is not able to walk typically. The third activity was a timed one-handed fishing game which represented the community that has use of only one upper extremity.

The Great OuTdoors!

The Great OuTdoors! Baylee, Brandie, Brittney, Kassy, Rebekah, Ashlyn, Makinze and Keri

3. Fall into OT!

The first activity included using a reacher to grab an apple out of a bowl of water. This represented someone who could not bend over to bob an apple with their mouth.

The second activity included using the individual’s non-dominant hand to button the scarecrow’s shirt. This stimulated how a person with only one arm feels when dressing.

The third activity was to rake leaves using the individual’s non-dominant hand into the hula hoop. This showed the students how a person feels who can only use one hand when doing yard work.

Fall into OT!

Fall into OT! Whitney, Dustin, Emily, Sumer, Haley, Rachael, Liz and Korrine

After presenting the team’s ideas and taking a vote, the winners were….

The Great OuTdoors!!!

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6 Ideas to Fire Up Your Next Camping Trip

By L&C OTA Student Rebekah Miler-Lyles

“Time camping isn’t spent; it’s invested.”

When the air turns a little nippy and the leaves a little crisp, I know the time has come to get outdoors and unplug.

One of my all-time favorite ways to unplug is through camping. I know that if I were to suffer from an injury or disability, I would still want to find a way to enjoy camping.

One of the goals of Occupational Therapy Practitioners is to find a way to get people back to doing the things they love. Following these few tips will have you back enjoying the great outdoors in no time

Plan Ahead

First, contact your local campsite to find out whether they have handicap accessible camping spots available. National and State Parks are a good place to start as they often list such information online.

Be sure to ask about the distance to amenities, whether the ground is level, and sidewalk availability.

Grab Your Gear

Next, make sure to come equipped with the right gear. Many manufacturers offer a range of tents with wheelchair friendly dome entrances and raised cot areas.  Adaptive equipment such as easy peg removers simplifies the process even more.

Have Fun

Finally, get involved and enjoy yourself. Not sure what to do? Try some of these 6 ideas.

1. Campfire Cooking

Try an old favorite like roasting hot dogs or something with a twist like Smoreos.

2. Stargazing

Whether looking for constellations or observing meteorological events such as a meteor shower, the sky is always a wonder to behold.

3. Be Present

Experience nature with your eyes and ears. Watch a sunset, observe the fireflies dance in the night sky, or listen for the distinct song of the Barred Owl as he sings, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”

4. Sing a Campfire Song

Sing some of your favorite camp songs around the fire. Whether singing “Kumbaya My Lord” or “Hello Mu-dda! Hello Fa-dda!,” a sing-along is a great way to get everyone together at the end of the day.

5. Play Games & Tell Stories

Make memories together playing games, such as washers, or telling stories.

6. Explore Your Options

If sensory-processing challenges are preventing your child from enjoying unstructured camp experiences, they may flourish under the care of an occupational therapy summer camp where sensory integration and socialization are built into daily camp life.

Now tell me, what are some of your favorite camping memories or tips and tricks? 

3 Habits of Highly Successful Hikers with Disabilities

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” ~ T.S. Elliot

By OTA Student Rebekah Miler-Lyles

Challenges have a way changing a person, and the way a person rises up to meet those challenges determines their success or failure.

When you find yourself with a disability, you may think you will never be able to do the things you love again, especially if you are the sort of person who enjoys physically stimulating activities, such as hiking.

One of Occupational Therapy’s core beliefs is that engaging in meaningful occupations (i.e. activities) is essential for promoting health and well-being. Fortunately, you can follow in the footsteps of those who have experienced similar struggles and learn from their example.

Glacier National Park

The Avalanche Lake Hike at Glacier National Park has off-road wheelchair access. Image Source

Check out these 3 Habits of Highly Successful Hikers with Disabilities

1. Know where you’re going.

Take time to do some research and map out the terrain of the trails.

A topographical map or an app such as Maps 3D Pro can be helpful in determining whether a trail is an “easy” or “difficult hike.”

Visitor centers will be able to tell you whether wheelchair accessible trails are present.

2. Always be prepared.

The golden rule of the Boy Scouts applies to everyone, disabled and able-bodied alike.

Not only do you need to carry the usual arsenal of things like water, a cell phone, and a knife, but you may also want to consider using adaptive equipment, such as a wheelchair fitted with bike tires, to make your hike less taxing.

Dressing in layers will prevent you from becoming uncomfortable.

3. Safety first.

Always let someone know where you’re going and when you plan on being back.

Many larger trails even have a registration list so they can keep tabs on your safety. Bring along emergency supplies such as a first aid kit, bear spray, and a whistle.

Most importantly, know your limits.

Developing these habits will not only help YOU become a successful hiker but will serve as your guidepost on the path to health and happiness.

What other habits are important when hiking with a disability? Let us know in the comments below.

6 Ways to Save Money with OT

Being an Occupational Therapy (OT) Assistant is all about thinking on your feet and adapting items for a client so she can become as independent as possible to complete an activity.

Depending on what the client needs assistance with will help the occupational therapy practitioner decide what adaptive equipment is needed.

Not every facility has all the adaptive equipment a practitioner might need so sometimes the practitioner must improvise and make one with what is available.

Other reasons adaptive equipment may be homemade is that insurance will not cover the cost and it is a lot cheaper to make one than to purchase one.

1. Non-slip socks

For instance, all clients should always wear non-slip socks when getting up from a bed or a chair to prevent falls. For these socks, all you need is a pair of socks and some puffy paint.

Items needed:

  • Puffy Paint
  • Socks of your choice


  • Find the bottom of your sock
  • Lay it on a flat surface
  • Chose the color of your puffy paint
  • Apply puffy paint to sock
  • Set out to dry

These socks are made to help individuals who are at risk of falling.

2. Pot Pan Holder

Being able to cook for yourself is an important skill to have but, if a client has trouble holding different items like pots and pans or a cup, cooking can be difficult.

A pot and pan holder can be made from suction cups and a hanger.

Items needed:

  • Suction cups with holes
  • Wire of some sort (hanger)


  • Bend the wire in an “M” shape
  • Place the two ends of the wire and the middle of the wire to suction cups (use of glue to help hold the wire to the suction cups)

This adaptive device is usually used for individuals who have the use of only one upper extremity.

3. Sock Aid

There are clients who have trouble getting their socks or pants on. So, for help to get their socks on, a sock aid can be made from at least a one-liter bottle, tape, and some rope.

Supplies needed:

  • Bottle
  • Shoelaces/ rope


  • Cut the top and bottom of the bottle off
  • Cut a section of the middle of the bottle out
  • Cut two holes on each side of the bottle
  • Lace the shoelace/rope through the hole
  • Knot the shoelace/rope making sure it secure
  • Place tape around the cut edges of the bottle

4. Reacher

Help with getting pants on can be as simple as using a pair of suspenders to assist in pulling them up.

Items needed:

  • Suspenders


  • Apply clips of suspenders to the waist of your pants.
  • Put the pants on the floor.
  • Place your feet inside your pants.
  • Using the end of the suspenders pull up your pants.

This could be used if you can’t stand for long periods of time, have decreased strength or decreased endurance.

5. Button Hook

Clients could also use some assistance with buttoning a shirt or pants, and a button hook can be made from just a paper clip and some tape.

Items needed:

  • Paperclip
  • Tape


  • Shape the paper clip
  • Tape around the end creating the handle

This can be used for people who only have the use of one upper extremity.

6. Straw Holder

A straw holder can be made from a clothespin, large straw, glue, and small straws.

Items needed:

  • clothes pin
  • glue
  • large straw and smaller disposable straws


  • Cut larger straw
  • Glue larger straw onto clothespin
  • Simply slide the straw into the larger straw piece and clip the clothespin onto any cup.

This could be used for children with visual impairments and good for children who have difficulty picking up a cup to drink from it.

Many of these items can be found in the home or for under five dollars at some local stores. When a client sees how simple some adaptive equipment is to make, it will give him more confidence when he is able to go home. As future COTAs, knowing we can change a client’s outlook on life with paper clip, one-liter bottle, tape, and rope, shows us that we choose that right career path.

What kinds of things do you use from home to help your clients? Let us know in the comments.

Become an OTA Advocate


Advocacy – Image Source

Advocacy is the process of supporting a cause such as an idea, policy or activity, that can directly affect a person’s or group’s well-being.

The role of advocacy in Occupational Therapy is necessary not only for the strength of the profession but also for optimum care for clients. One way you can get involved in this profession is to become an advocate. Becoming an advocate helps to strengthen the care we have for the clients.

Call Your Representative

Call Your Representative – Image Source

There are two levels of advocacy: Informal and Formal. Informal includes writing or calling your representative for support, voting for officers of AOTA: American Occupational Therapy Association, informing your state representative about issues you may have, staying up to date on current issues via AOTA emails or blogs, and keeping your colleagues up to date on all the efforts for the profession.

Hill Day

Hill Day – Image Source

Formal advocacy efforts include attending AOTA Hill Day and your state’s Hill Day, attending local and state meetings, becoming a volunteer when needed, serving on committees, attending conferences, running for different offices, speaking to consumers and community groups about occupational therapy services, recruiting individuals to become involved in the profession, and serving as a mentor to new OTA practitioners.

A few advocacy activities that you can get involved in are Legislative Action Center, Political Action Committee and Awareness Campaigns. Legislative Action Center is an area of the AOTA’s website that allows you to voice your opinion to members of congress on important issues you want to fix and find answers and new solutions.

AOTA Conference

AOTA Conference – Image Source

Political Action Committee is used as a way to receive donations through members to elect candidates to congress, train OTs, OTAs and students, and gain local practitioners to help serve as campaign advisors, volunteers, and candidates.

Awareness Campaigns are used to build awareness and understanding of Occupational Therapy by using resources through AOTA brochures, visuals and audiovisuals that are all available on AOTA’s website.


AOTPAC – Image Source

We encourage everybody to become an advocate today for the profession of Occupational Therapy. Go to for more information on how you can be an advocate today.

Jacobs, K. (2016). Managment and Administration for the OTA . Thorofare, New Jersey: Slack Incorporated. Retrieved from


Horsing Around with OT

Occupational Therapy is a health discipline that focuses on activities that a person does every day and that are meaningful to the client.

Some occupational therapy practitioners use horses during treatments with clients and this is called hippotherapy.

Hippotherapy is a great way to increase muscle tone, balance and posture in a client that has difficulty in any of these areas. It is a fun and exciting way to involve the whole body in a calming therapy session.

Here are some of the awesome benefits of hippotherapy.

Physical benefits

  1. Improved Gross Motor Skills
  2. Reduced abnormal Muscle Tone
  3. Respiratory Control

Cognitive benefits

  1. Improved Attention
  2. Tactile Response
  3. Visual Coordination

Psychological benefits

  1. Enjoyable interactions with the animal
  2. Opportunities for social interactions
  3. Improved self-esteem

Hippotherapy can impact a client in many positive ways, so go out and horse around today!

For more information about hippotherapy visit



4 Ways to Deal with Stress


With school starting back up soon, it is important to deal with all your stress and anxiety in a healthy, positive way. Between homework, tests, and life stressors, it is important to find a coping skill that is personal and fitting to you.

Children with depression tend to be quick to anger and focused on their inability to do things. Other signs of depression include clinging to parents, fear of a parent dying, and refusal to go to school.

Adolescents with depression typically are socially withdrawn, very irritable or angry, and at times express suicidal thoughts to friends or family. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), suicides are now the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States, surpassing homicides.

Adults have more varied symptoms of depression. Like adolescents, they stop participating in their leisure, family, and home maintenance roles. This lack of energy can also affect their work if they are working at all. Adults with depression find it difficult to get up out of bed, dress

Adults with depression find it difficult to get up out of bed, dress/care for themselves, work out problems, engage in activities, or go out with friends.

“There may be marked sadness, irritability, and lack of attention to detail, such as messing up money management tasks or not remembering appointments or important dates,” said Lisa Mahaffey, MS, OTR/L, an occupational therapist at Linden Oaks Hospital in Naperville, Illinois.

Coping strategies are methods a person uses to deal with stressful situations. Obtaining and maintaining good coping strategies does take good practice. However, utilizing these skills becomes easier over time. Most importantly, good coping skills make for good mental health wellness.

The practice of occupational therapy is based on the philosophy and evidence that individuals diagnosed with mental health conditions can and do recover and lead meaningful, satisfying, and productive lives.

Occupational therapy practitioners work collaboratively with people in a manner that helps to foster hope, motivation, and empowerment, as well as system change.

With that in mind, here are 5 coping strategies that can be used by children or adults who are feeling stress or overwhelmed!

1. Deep Breathing

The many benefits of deep breathing include a reduction in stress and blood pressure, strengthening of abdominal and intestinal muscles and relief of general body aches and pains. Deep breathing also promotes better blood flow, releases toxins from the body and aids in healthy sleep.

2. Exercising

Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can, in turn, lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or just get up and stretch!

3. Journaling

Keeping a journal helps you establish order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. It helps you get to know yourself by revealing your innermost fears, thoughts, and feelings. Look at your writing time as personal relaxation time, a time when you de-stress and wind down. Write in a place that’s relaxing and soothing—maybe with a cup of tea. Look forward to your journaling time, and know that you’re doing something good for your mind and body.

4. Do something for yourself

Do something nice for yourself! Go to see a movie, spend time with your pals, have a drink, or go on a weekend getaway.

What do you do to help relieve your stress? Leave a comment below!

5 Creative Uses for Recycled Materials

Creative Uses for Recycled Materials

There are a ton of ways to repurpose and reuse household items. Image Source

You would be surprised to see what you can do with the ordinary things lying around your house!

As students in Lewis and Clark Community College’s OTA program, we are constantly reusing, recycling, and finding new ways to make things.

Being creative is key! Things that you may usually throw away can be made into items that can help a client regain skills or improve a skill that was lost due to an injury or illness. When you become creative your pocket book becomes bigger as well.

Reusing common household items can save you trips to the store and save you time. Here are 5 creative ways to make use of items you probably have sitting around at home! You can recycle and save money!

Colorful Creatures

Plastic bottles can be transformed into colorful creatures. Image Source

1. Take a used water bottle and fill it up with cotton balls or colorful shredded paper and play bowling! This is a great gross motor activity that focuses on strength, depth perception, and eye-hand coordination. The one I made turned into a penguin! The toddlers really enjoyed this activity!

Buttons and Beads

Buttons and beads can be used for many craft projects or to keep hands busy. Image Source

2. Make use of unused small items such as buttons or beads… or whatever you can find in your junk drawer! Have the client use his hands to manipulate the small objects in order to pick them up and place them in a small container (you could cut a slit in a used plastic butter or yogurt container).  This recycled project will work on pinch strength, eye-hand coordination, and visual motor skills.

Infinity Loop

Recycled materials can be repurposed into therapeutic toys. Image Source

3. Using a paper plate, you could create an Infinity Loop. What a fun idea… the client focuses on moving the ball around the edges of the paper plate while working on bilateral coordination skills, motor control, and visual motor skills.

Box Puzzle

Any kind of box can be repurposed into a puzzle. Image Source

4. Ever wonder what to do with old cereal boxes? Cut one up to make a puzzle out of it! You can make a 6 piece puzzle or a 15 piece puzzle! This recycled activity works on fine motor skills, figure ground, and problem-solving!


Buckles and fasteners can help improve fine motor skills. Image Source

5. Another great idea is to collect buckles and fasteners from backpacks, purses, bags, belts, coats or whatever you can find. This is a great way to work on hand strength, problem-solving, and bilateral coordination.

What items from around your house have you used for treatments with clients? Share some of your favorites in the comments below.

AOTA Hosts Game-Changing Conference

Conference Students

Six Lewis and Clark Community College OTA students attend the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Conference.

Every year, Occupational Therapy practitioners around the world attend the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Conference. This is an opportunity for professionals to further develop their skills and increase their knowledge through workshops, research panels, and presentations to learn the most current methods and continue providing skilled therapy.

This year it was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was extra special because not only was it our first time attending the conference, but we also celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Occupational Therapy!

100-year celebration

The AOTA Conference celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Occupational Therapy.

Over the course of several days, six of us Lewis and Clark Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant students attended various presentations. As students, we felt our time would be most wisely spent in student-oriented sessions to help us better prepare for entering the workforce.

We attended discussion panels of new practitioners, prep sessions with tips for taking the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam, but in the end, several of us agreed that a lecture we attended by Brandon Siegel, CRP, was the most impactful of all the sessions we attended during the conference.

Mr. Siegel provided information on to help jump start a career in Occupational Therapy, and his approach to the topic was humorous and down to earth. Below is our condensed list of Mr. Siegel’s presentation with 15 game-changing tips to entering the Occupational Therapy workforce.

Next-Gen Occupational Therapists: Secrets to Entering the Workforce in Today’s Ever-Changing Environment

  1. Create relationships within the company – NETWORK!!!
  2. Document each Fieldwork experience (Disease, Treatment, Methods, Protocols, Patient Outcomes, etc.)
  3. Focus on your Productivity: HARD WORK PAYS OFF!
  4. Interview your coworkers to step up your game
  5. Resume (1-2 pages)
    • Needs to have licensure at the top
    • Goal: Hit key words, Disease, Treatment, Exposure (summary)
    • Summary of Qualifications: 1-2 pages
    • Brag about your exposure and experience
    • Fieldwork Level 1: 1-2 bullet points
    • Fieldwork Level 2: 2-3 bullet points
  6. Curriculum Vitae (CV) … Life story as an OT
    • Could be 20 pgs.….
    • Include only experience relevant to OT
  7. Get a LinkedIn Profile
    • Productivity:
      1. Copy of resume, 2 letters of recommendation (1 clinical, 1 character building) Sample documentation

** The quality of therapy is only as good as your documentation**

  1. Verify the job hours (e.g., PRN, Full Time)
  2. GPA is not relevant
    • Passing the NBCOT exam states you are qualified for entry level job
  3. Cover letter:
    • 2-3 paragraphs max
    • 1/2 – 2/3 page – Background information and your qualifications
  4. Don’t include an objective statement
  5. Start looking for jobs 6-8 weeks before the exam
  6. Put the most relevant information at the top of the resume
  7. Resume should include bullet points and minimal color
  8. Do your homework! Not only is the employer interviewing you, but you are interviewing them! The more you know about the employer, the better you can judge if the job opportunity and workplace is a match for you. Knowledge is power!!
AOTA Conference

L&C OTA students celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Occupational Therapy at the AOTA Conference in 2017.