Best of Occupational Therapy (1/20/2020)

Welcome to the first ever edition of the Best of Occupational Therapy aka “The BOOT”.

I am so excited to share this new project with you and having been working diligently for the past few months in order to get this rolling.

Here’s the deal:

Throughout the week, I’ll consume all sorts of wonderful occupational therapy related material, from podcast episodes, to blog posts, YouTube videos, journal articles, social media posts, you name it. Then I’ll pick a few of my favorites and feature them here for you to enjoy.

That way you get a taste of all the amazing OT content that is out there sent right to your inbox, and you don’t have to do any of the digging. Unless that is, you are a pediatric therapist who works with clients in a sand box. In that case, sorry, you will always be digging.

So without further ado, let’s see who gets BOOTed this week:

Hot OT Topics

What better way to kick things off then with a blog post highlighting some hot topics in occupational therapy as told by the research. Sarah Lyon, OTR/L from OT Potential has been tirelessly scanning through the research to find the most influential OT related journal articles.

But in this post, she takes it one step further and summarizes some of the major themes that she has been seeing and the best part is they are all backed by evidence.

Check out her article: Hot Topics in OT (2020)

Getting on the OTD Soapbox

Speaking of hot topics in occupational therapy (in the United States), the OTD mandate is definitely one of them. It’s been on and off the ballot a few times recently and I believe it is back on the ballot as of the time of this posting.

Dr. Michael Roberts, the host of the I Love OT Podcast, put together a fantastic episode detailing his concerns about going to the single point of entry for entry-level OT programs at this time.

Whether you agree or disagree with the mandate, take a listen here: The OTD Soapbox Episode

Mindfulness in Motherhood

Danielle Delorenzo, OTR/L who blogs over at Mornings With an OT Mom whose professional life (working in pediatrics/ early intervention) and personal life (having a 2 year old son) collided when she noticed some developmental delays in her son.

Her raw and honest account shows the humanistic side of our profession. It highlights the fact that when we as therapists meet our clients for the first time, they have a whole story behind them that got them to where they are right now.

Check out the 4 part series here:

Being Fast When It Comes to Strokes

Coming in from the Instagram interwebs is a post from Crystal aka The Brainy OT as she also recently had an intersection between her personal and professional life. She shares the important signs and symptoms of a stroke and how quick actions (BEFAST) can save your brain.

This post is imperative for every OT practitioner, every student, and quite honestly everyBODY to know. So read her post and then share with everyone you know.

See the post here: Stroke Alert

5 Months, 9 Countries, and 25 States

While you are reading this I am just getting back from a multi-month trip starting with a road trip from Los Angeles, CA to Annapolis, MD (where my husband is from) via the northern route of the US. My husband and I then flew to Europe for three months, galavanting around places like Portugal, Germany, The Netherlands, and Italy to name a few. After almost wearing out our travel visas, we flew back to Annapolis, MD for Christmas and then took off on our return road trip back to California via the southern route.

All in all, I added four new countries: Estonia, Finland, Canada, and Belgium. And I added fifteen new states to my travel belt and saw much of the vast diversity that the world has to offer.

During my time off, I spent many hours reflecting on OT 4 Lyfe, my role as an occupational therapy practitioner, and everything that has happened this past year.

I have a lot of big things planned for 2020, including stuff on the blog, amazing podcast guests, and some other projects that I can’t disclose of quite yet.

Cheers to the new year and the first BOOT!

Bunnies and Ducks and Llamas, Oh My! with Mona Sams

Episode Summary

Ever incorporated llamas into your occupational therapy sessions before?

Our guest today, Mona Sams, OTR/L, has llamas, as well as a host of other animals that she incorporates into her OT practice. In the interview, Mona shares how she first got interested integrating animals in her OT sessions and why llamas are so effective in therapy. She highlights how she not only has her clients work with the llamas directing them through obstacle courses, but that she also has them do crafts with their hair fibers, thus addressing so many different skills across the board.

Be prepared, Mona recounts a few stories about her clients and animals that are sure to melt your heart.

Show Notes

Sarah and Mona discuss: 

  • How she incorporates llamas into her OT sessions
  • What other animals she has at her practice
  • Why llamas are effective in therapy
  • LlamaFest:
  • How animals facilitate verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Introducing clients to animals when they are afraid of them
  • The importance of skilled therapy when using animals
  • Link to her research article:
  • How she got interested in using llamas in therapy
  • Using llama hair for crafts
  • How she structures her sessions
  • Other considerations for using animals in therapy
  • The interconnectedness of all animals




Early Intervention with an OT Mom with Danielle Delorenzo

Episode Summary

What happens when your clinical world and your personal world collide?

Danielle Delorenzo, OTR/L joins the show today to talk about just that. Danielle is an occupational therapist with over 20 years experience working in early intervention (EI). But this time she was not the one conducting the evaluation. Rather she was the parent bringing in her 2 year old son to be evaluated due to concerns with his development.

Danielle shares her journey from navigating EI as a parent, juggling the roles of being a mom and a pediatric therapist, as well as how having a child in early intervention has impacted her as a therapist. She offers up amazing advice from her own experiences to help occupational therapists provide the best care they possibly can.

Show Notes

Sarah and Danielle discuss:

  • Navigating early intervention assessment as a parent and a therapist
  • A blessing and a curse of being an OT going through this process
  • Roles of being a mom, an OT, getting her doctorate, and now being a therapy mom
  • The importance of having a “village”
  • The defining moment that made her seek out help
  • Developmental trajectories
  • Being the first person as an EI OT to tell parents that something is wrong
  • Caregiver dyad and regulation
  • How having a child in early intervention has impacted her as a therapist
  • Parental guilt
  • Being present in the moment through mindfulness
  • Value of working with the parents and families in early intervention
  • Being an expert means being a life long learner
  • Questions she had from the mom side
  • Dealing with people staring at our kids when we are out in public
  • Using video-taping to facilitate therapy and parental education
  • One piece of advice for therapists?
  • Her blog Mornings with an OT Mom:
  • Her episode on the OT Schoolhouse Podcast:





A Year in the Lyfe

Episode Summary

Today marks episode 50 of the OT 4 Lyfe podcast! Being that today’s episode is a big milestone, we’re doing something fun to celebrate.

To date, there have been over 50 interviews on the show and they range from a host of interests, backgrounds, and practice areas. We’ve had on occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, OT and OTA students, and a few non-OT professionals because collaboration between professions is super important.

So to celebrate episode 50, we’ll be sharing some clips from some of these amazing guests. The clips were chosen because they really stood out as pivotal aspects within our profession as a whole. They were inspiring and insightful and share glimpses into the all around fantastic people who make up our profession. Thanks so much for being a part of this podcasting journey and I hope you enjoy episode 50!

Show Notes

Mentioned episodes: 

If you have any reflections, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. You can find me at my 

Email at

Instagram: @ot.4.lyfe:

Twitter: @ot4lyfe:

Facebook: ot4lyfe:

Youtube: ot4lyfe:

Living Life One Day at a Time with TaeJun Lee

Episode Summary

A car crash left TaeJun (TJ) with an incomplete C4-C5 spinal cord injury and less than a 5% chance of ever walking again. But with support from his family and friends and his willingness to put in the work, TJ was determined to not let his injury hold him back.

In the show today, TJ Lee, COTA/L shares his journey from accident to recovery and how that led him to the field of occupational therapy. He reflects on how his experience has impacted him as a practitioner and has influenced him towards various interests within the field including working with fall prevention, pain and movement, assistive technology, ergonomics with video gamers, and working with a team of specialists in a healthcare collective to work with dancers.

Through his work as a certified occupational therapy assistant, advocating for disability awareness through his blog, and being an adaptive athlete who competes in obstacle course races throughout the country, TJ truly lives his life to the fullest, one day at a time and works to instill the same mindset for his clients.

Show Notes

Sarah and TJ discuss:

  • His interest in obstacle course racing
  • 9/13/2003- The day of his accident
  • What his life looked like before
  • The extend of his injuries from the accident and then once in the hospital
  • The perspective of going through inpatient care
  • Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center:
  • Coping with medical professionals, his family, and friends thinking that he might also have a brain injury
  • Getting better one day at a time
  • Why he preferred to go to physical therapy over occupational therapy
  • Progression of his recovery, sensation, and movement
  • His willingness to work and fail in order to make progress in therapy
  • Spent about 5 months with little to no movement
  • Overcoming the trauma and the injury
  • Transitioning to going home
  • Continuing his therapy and rehabilitation on his own
  • His path into becoming a COTA/L
  • How his accident and personal experience with therapy has influenced him as a therapist
  • Finding a job with a disability
  • Recognizing his physical limitations and using other ways to manage his treatment sessions
  • His progression of interests in fall prevention, pain, kinesiotaping, movement, soft tissue, technology and apps, assistive technology, ergonomics of video gamers
  • Importance of collaboration
  • His healthcare collective
  • His blog- One Day at a Time 365:

Connect with TJ:





Sensory Integration and the Transformation From Clinic to Home with Laura Petix

Episode Summary

People are sensory beings and all day everyday our bodies are hard at work processing the sensory stimuli that exists in our world. Some of us are sensitive to sensory input and may shy away from certain types of stimuli, while others might crave input and go out of their way to seek it out. Problems within the sensory systems occur when people have difficulty processing and integrating the information which leads to negative effects on how people function within their daily lives.

Laura Petix, MS, OTR/L joins the show today to talk about all things sensory. She shares her role as an occupational therapist working within a sensory gym and the importance of educating parents to explain what sensory integration is and how it affects development. We dive deep into how to bridge the gap between providing therapy in a sensory clinic and how best to facilitate carry over for the clients at home, school and in the community.

In addition to her work as an occupational therapist working in pediatrics, Laura also shares her personal journey as a mom with a child who has sensory needs and how this has impacted her practice. To hear more from Laura, you can follow her @TheOTButterfly.

Show Notes

Sarah and Laura discuss: 

  • Her favorite weekend occupation 
  • The lack of lunch breaks as a pediatric OT
  • My secret to hot lunches on the go:
  • Laura’s favorite food 
  • Our sensory quirks
  • How she explains sensory processing to parents
  • Facilitating parents to be validated with their feelings
  • The importance of education for the caregivers in order to carry-over techniques at home
  • Bridging the gap between working in the clinic environment and home or school
  • Using the just right challenge for the kids and when providing strategies for the parents
  • How she structures her sensory treatments
  • Following the child’s lead
  • Celebrating the small wins
  • Her path into OT 
  • Her journey with sensory difficulties with her daughter
  • How she navigates being an OT and a mom
  • The impact of being a parent of a child with sensory needs on her practice as an OT
  • Advice for therapists
  • What is the meaning behind the name The OT Butterfly?
  • Teachers Pay Teachers- The OT Butterfly:
  • Classroom Sensory Strategies Guidebook:




From OT School to New Grad OT with Jordan McCauley

Episode Summary

OT school is over. All assignments have been turned in, fieldworks have been completed, and graduation has come and gone. The transition from OT student to new grad OT is a busy time, full of challenges, learning, and pushing oneself outside of their comfort. Jordan McCauley, OTR/L joins the show today to share his journey from finding out about the occupational therapy profession, to his time as an OT student in the classroom and during his fieldwork, and then to his current role as a new grad occupational therapist.

He discusses how he balances life with fieldwork and studying, challenges that he faced during his OT program, and the importance of having a community around him to support him through this process. Listen to the very end of the episode to hear about his amazing capstone project working in Guatemala.

Show Notes

Sarah and Jordan discuss: 

  • Today is a big day, why is that?
  • Experiencing back to back fieldworks
  • When did he find out about OT?
  • How the Level 1 Fieldworks were integrating within his program
  • One thing he wished he knew going into his level 2 fieldworks
  • Realization of balancing life with fieldwork
  • Challenges he faced during his rotations
  • Managing self-care
  • Resources for Level 2 students
  • Importance of community 
  • OT Exam study resources
  • What’s next for him?
  • His capstone project trip to Guatemala

Find more Resources here:

Follow Jordan on Instagram:

Fieldwork is Over: Now What?- OTA Fieldwork: Part 4 of 4

Episode Summary

Fieldwork is over. So much as happened. Lots of observing, learning, researching, preparing, doing, reflecting, and the list goes on and on. In eight short weeks, the students, Ijeoma Ikpeze and Chantal Sendall, went from students to entry level proficient within the mental health setting.

In the last episode of the OTA fieldwork series, the girls reflect on their experience and everything that has happened in their last fieldwork rotation. They discuss the biggest hurdles they faced and skills that they feel they need to continue to work on. They also share tips and tricks, as well provide advice for current students to excel in their fieldwork.

Show Notes

Chantal, EJ, and Sarah discuss:

Midterm Evaluations and the Final Weeks of Placement – OTA Fieldwork: Part 3 of 4

Episode Summary

During the middle of fieldwork, students and their supervisors complete the midterm evaluation and discuss progress over the first half of the student’s placement. They address any areas that need continued growth and set goals for the student to successfully complete their level II fieldwork. The students begin managing full caseloads and taking over responsibilities necessary for entry level practice.

This is the third episode of the OTA student series where we follow two occupational therapy assistant students Ijeoma Ikpeze and Chantal Sendall throughout their last level 2 fieldwork placements. In this episode, the girls share how their midterms went, what their schedules look like now, as well as assess their feelings as fieldwork is ending.

Show Notes

Chantal, EJ, and Sarah discuss:

  • Their current feelings heading into the last 2 weeks of fieldwork
  • Feelings about midterm scoring
  • What going through the midterm looked like
  • Importance of self reflection during fieldwork
  • What their day-to-day looks like in fieldwork
  • The importance of having other students with you on fieldwork
  • Practice supervision for OT and OTA students
  • Reflections on expectations and managing the role of the student
  • Becoming your own therapist and not just an imitation of your supervisor
  • The last two weeks of fieldwork and beyond
  • Finding a job as a new grad

From Observation to Taking the Lead – OTA Fieldwork: Part 2 of 4

Episode Summary

During the first few weeks of fieldwork, OT and OTA students get exposed to the practice area, common diagnoses, treatment activities and modalities, as well as the team that they will be working with throughout their placement.  Students start with observing their supervisors and other therapists at the site, then begin assisting in the treatment sessions and evaluations, and ultimately start taking the lead for their assigned caseload. 

This is the second episode of the OTA student series where we follow two occupational therapy assistant students Ijeoma Ikpeze and Chantal Sendall throughout their last level 2 fieldwork placements. In this episode, the girls share how their experience is going in the first three weeks, including what their days and supervision looks like, as well as specific challenges that they have encountered. This episode is for any OT and OTA students or future students, practicing clinicians, and fieldwork educators. 

Show Notes

EJ, Chantal, and Sarah discuss: 

  • How they feel after completing 3 weeks of fieldwork
  • Shifting from observing to leading their own groups
  • Distinguishing OTs unique value in mental health services
  • What to do when your treatment plan backfires?
  • Therapeutic use of self
  • Learning to read the patients
  • Daily and momentary goals
  • How their days are structured 
  • Differences in supervision
  • The emotional toll of working in mental health
  • The role of our own biases
  • Changes in responsibilities expected in the next few weeks of fieldwork
  • Advice for students going into fieldwork