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 www.americanhippotherapyassociation.org.



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Adolescents with depression typically are socially withdrawn, very irritable or angry, and at times express suicidal thoughts to friends or family.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.

The Dog Days of OT: Meet Spuds & Ribbie

Spuds and Ribbie

Meet Spuds and Ribbie! Image Source

By Lisa Hill, OTAS, and Larissa Heeren, OTAS

Therapy can be found everywhere these days, and it comes in many forms.  However, when it comes to therapy dogs, most people think of the large breed dogs such as German Shepherds or Labradors.  But, that is not always the case.

Please meet Spuds and Ribbie, the two lovable companions of Mackenzie Lowrance COTA/L, CPAM.  Mackenzie is a graduate of the Lewis and Clark Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.  She is currently employed as a Licensed and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant with a Certificate in Physical Agent Modalities. This means she can treat clients with light, water, temperature, sound, or electricity in preparation or in combination with occupational therapy interventions.  Spuds and Ribbie are not only her companions but also her coworkers.

Therapy Dogs

Spuds and Ribbie are registered Therapy Dogs. Image Source

Spuds crossed Mackenzie’s path when he was approximately 8 weeks old and only weighed 2 lbs! He tried crossing the road on a rural highway in front of her, so she scooped him up and made him her own. Mackenzie soon began to train Spuds and his first accomplishment was the American Kennel Club (AKC) good citizen course.  After this certificate, he began to go to work with Mackenzie.  He was practically a veteran when he tested for Therapy Dogs International and received his official license.


Spuds has now made more than 150 therapy visits. Image Source

Ribbie was the runt of her litter that came from a friend of Mackenzie’s and at 6 weeks old weighing in at an amazing ½ lb, Mackenzie took her home to meet Spuds.  Mackenzie eventually began to work with Ribbie and had her tested with Therapy Dogs International also. Ribbie was awarded her license and soon began to go to work with Mackenzie too. Both Ribbie and Spuds had very sweet temperaments and both of them loved being with people. Their wonderful dispositions have made them very successful therapy dogs and they have been loving life in the working world ever since.

Fun Loving

Spuds and Ribbie are fun loving dogs. Image Source

Spuds and Ribbie are excellent examples of how important therapy dogs have become in the medical field.  The dogs bring peace and happiness to those with illness and disability.  And, as Spuds and Ribbie have proven, therapy dogs can come in all shapes and sizes.  These kinds of dogs have a presence in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice, home visits, libraries, schools, shelters and anywhere else there are people with a need to feel their love and comfort.  In fact, libraries have started implementing programs called Tail Waggin’ Tutors where children read to dogs as a way to promote literacy.

Ribbie Cuddles

Ribbie gives some therapeutic cuddles. Image Source

As Occupational Therapy Assistant students, we urge all pet owners to visit the Therapy Dogs International’s webpage at http://www.tdi-dog.org to learn more about this awesome way the dogs of the world are making a big difference in people’s lives on a daily basis.

Spuds Snuggles

Spuds snuggles up to a patient. Image Source

Let us know if your pet would make a good co-worker in the comments below.

6 Tips to Beat the Heat

Screenshot 2017-06-06 14.39.15

Find shady areas to beat the heat. Image: Under the Shade of a Tree by Kuroda Seiki

By Rachel Buckley, OTAS and Crystal Anderson, OTAS

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Summer is in full swing with a lot of things to do! Exploring, vacationing, relaxing and spending time with friends and family are just a few of those things with a majority of activities taking place outside.

Fun in the sun can be potentially dangerous as temperatures rise and heat waves come along. In 2014, 244 people died in the U.S. just from exposure to excessive heat. That’s a lot of people! No need to worry though, occupational therapy is here to help.

June is National Safety Month, and as professionals concerned with the safety of individuals, occupational therapists know there are a few tips individuals can take to avoid injury and illness that may limit summertime fun.

The connection between occupational therapy and safety is strong. The occupational therapy profession aims to do no harm and prevent individuals from experiencing harm. This can include providing the community with health and wellness tips or information.

In this spirit, we present 6 tips to safely enjoy time outdoors when the heat is a challenge to beat.

1) Stay Cool

Like the lovely lady in the painting by Kuroda Seiki at the beginning of this post, seek out shady areas when spending times outdoors in the heat. Or, you can also alternate short activities to complete inside and outside. This gives you the opportunity to cool off by soaking in some air conditioning before braving the heat again.

2) Drink Water

The more the merrier. Drinking more water than you need can help when it is lost excessively through sweating.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 14.52.05

Our furry friends should stay hydrated, also. Image: Pixabay

3) Dress Appropriately

If those in style crop tops aren’t a possibility, wearing loose fitting or lightweight clothes is always a good idea. Even wearing a hat can make you feel better when the sun is beating down.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 14.58.18

Wearing hats can protect you and loved ones from the sun. Image: Pixabay

4) Limit Exposure

The hottest parts of the day occur between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. During this time, it is best to avoid strenuous or lengthy activities outdoors.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 15.01.40

Avoid the hottest parts of the days by staying indoors. Image: Padma News

5) Pace activities

When the body is overworked, it heats up. Choose activities that can include taking breaks or are not extremely demanding on the body.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 15.06.18

Find a place to take a break when you feel yourself getting overheated. Image: Pexels

6) Wear Sunscreen

When the skin gets burned, it makes it difficult for the body to stay cool! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended sunscreen is at least SPF 15 and should be applied more than once throughout the day. For further concerns and question contact a local or primary care physician about sunscreen use.

Screenshot 2017-06-06 15.09.02

Smile! Applying sunscreen can be fun. Image: Hawaii Aloha Travel

For further summertime safety tips check out the National Safety Council’s Summer Safety Tips.

How do you stay cool in the summer months? Let us know in the comments below.

Welcome to Living & Loving Life with OT

“The purpose of life is not to be happy—but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.”
~ Leo Rosten

The purpose of this blog is to inform the community about Occupational Therapy and the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program at Lewis and Clark Community College. We hope to inform others about the various services an OTA can offer as well as give an insight to what Occupational Therapy entails and to better understand it from a student’s point of view.