Occupational Therapy concepts of total wellness applied in Community Practice course

Students in Anoka Technical College’s Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program put theory into practice through the Community Practice course.

“The Community Practice course is all about the promotion of occupational therapy within the practice area of health and wellness,” shared Barbara Kloetzke, Anoka Tech OTA program instructor. “The course explores the role of Occupational Therapy and specifically the occupational therapy assistant working outside of the traditional medical settings but still using the concepts of occupational therapy and promotion of the occupation.”

Over the semester students are exposed to content that addresses health and wellness from a preventative viewpoint and increasing perception of quality of life across the lifespan and includes several presentations in the community.

This year’s presentations and community assessments included:

  • A community parks accessibility assessment. Students worked with a local city to visit some of their parks and review  accessibility features related to the playground equipment. The students gathered the information, assessed the parks, made recommendations, and presented their findings with city officials  to advocate for the role of occupational therapy in planning parks that are accessible for all people.
  • A six-week program presented to well-elders who live in local continuing care communities. Students focused on independent living residents for health and wellness topics such as chronic disease management, technology, sleep, rest and quality of life.
  • Presentations of health and wellness with children and youth (ages three to college level) related to ergonomics of proper wearing of a backpack.

But it doesn’t end there, “Still another assignment completed in this course is providing information related to a work setting, specifically ergonomics and keeping employees safe from injury,” said Kloetzke.

Hanna Rustin, Josie Heino and Sarah Rude were enrolled in the Community Practice course this fall and took a unique approach to completing this assignment. 

“Originally our assignment was to give a presentation to a group of individuals that carry a briefcase or laptop bag frequently and provide strategies to carry or pack the bags differently to reduce cumulative trauma,” said Heino. “We struggled to find a place where we could do this. We then shifted our focus to consider other unilateral load types people carry, such as toolboxes.”

The group was connected to a local electric company, MSP Electric, to complete the project. In partnership with the owner Chris Anderson, Rustin, Heino and Rude observed the staff on a job at MSP Airport twice.

OTA students at airport with MSP Electric

OTA students at an airport site visit with MSP Electric where they observed staff on the job as part of the Community Practice course project.

After having the opportunity to observe some of the electricians working, we decided to focus our presentation on preventing cumulative trauma injuries through the power of habits and routines,” said Heino.

A learning experience for the students also provided a great benefit for the experienced employees of MSP Electric.

“They [the employees] benefited from the information they got as to how their body works and things they can do to better their repetitive routines,” said Anderson. “I would like to continue to partner with this program in the future.”

Learn more about the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Anoka Tech by visiting the program page.

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