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New Labs Strengthen OT

For students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in health-related fields, state-of-the-art equipment isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity.

Thanks to grants from two foundations, students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in occupational science and master’s degrees in occupational therapy (OT) at Keuka College will make seamless transitions from the College lab to real-world OT settings.

Pediatric play lab

The College received grants from the Booth Ferris Foundation ($150,000) and George I. Alden Trust ($43,000) to develop “a community living skills lab, pediatric play lab, and a clinical skills lab,” said Vicki Smith, professor and chair of OT.

Smith’s goal was to create labs that simulate real-world OT environments in hospitals, schools, and clinics.

The clinical skills lab features hydraulic lifts, modalities and weights, and is a replica of what students will see in a hospital or clinical setting. The lab includes splinting stations, patient lifts, and manikins for treatment simulation.

The community living skills lab is a model apartment, complete with updated kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom.

“This lab helps students learn to adapt the home environment as the clinic,” said Smith. “It replicates the home and assisted living environments, and reflects the current transition from rehabilitation centers to home environments.”

Community living skills lab

Key items in this lab include home adaptation equipment for safety, which help students practice lifting someone in and out of the bathtub, bed, and couch.  It also provides students with experiences on modifying environments for future clients.

The idea behind the creation of the pediatric play lab was based on the fact that one-third of OT practicing clinicians are employed in school-based and pediatric environments, according to Smith.

“This is a significant shift in the profession over the last decade, so to prepare our students to be successful, we developed a state-of-the-art pediatric lab space,” said Smith. “It provides different types of stimulation areas in order for students to practice treatment techniques.

“Pediatric assessments require specialized space and tools,” added Smith, “so we have positioning equipment, a motor planning and balance climbing system, a mood and light sensory system, and tactile sensory room that can be modified for a variety of client needs.”

The pediatric lab also features a ball pit and a Wii gaming system, which provides treatment for both pediatric and geriatric patients. Also planned for the pediatric play lab is a driving simulator. According to Smith, the future of occupational therapy is developing expertise in driving rehabilitation.

“This includes assessment and intervention for individuals with physical and cognitive limitations,” she said. “The simulator focuses on safe driving by making physical adaptations to vehicles or recommending safe-driving practices. It will also help our students develop safe rehabilitation techniques for older drivers.”

Members of the College and local community are invited to view the equipment at an open house Tuesday, Dec. 7. It will run from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Hegeman Hall. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at noon.

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