Nov 25, 2020  
2011-2012 University Catalog 
2011-2012 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Occupational Therapy

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The mission of the Department of Occupational Therapy is to serve the health needs of the community through the preparation of reflective occupational therapy graduates who will practice in a broad range of institutional, home, school, industrial, and community settings. Graduates will use goal-directed activities and occupations as the foundation for facilitating an individual’s adaptation to biological, psychological, sociological, and/or environmental factors that have interrupted the person’s life course.

We view occupational therapy education as a preparation for lifelong learning. Professional service requires a foundation in the values of broad-based humanistic, ethical, and scientific knowledge. Graduates will be prepared to meet multifaceted role expectations in current and future healthcare, education, and community-based practice areas.

Overview of Profession

Occupational therapy is a health profession focused on helping clients develop the functional capacity to live independently, care for personal needs, and participate in work, school, or community activities. Occupational therapists provide services to individuals with impaired physical, cognitive, developmental, sensory, or emotional abilities and to individuals or groups who have or are at risk for dysfunction due to developmental changes or environmental factors. Some of the most common disabling conditions treated by occupational therapists are stroke, spinal cord injuries, and other neurological conditions, arthritis, developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, autism, hand injuries, depression, and schizophrenia.

Occupational therapists help clients to engage in desired activities more safely and independently. For example, occupational therapists may assist clients to gain/regain the ability to dress, safely prepare a meal, play in an age-appropriate manner, navigate throughout the community, or drive safely. Occupational therapist may help clients improve their motor skills, self esteem, or social interaction skills. Adaptive equipment and modifications to the home or work environment may also be incorporated into treatment to enhance performance in personal care, home management, job requirements, and leisure activities.

Occupational therapists work with clients of all ages, from infants to older adults. They use a variety of activities to foster feelings of mastery in their clients, such as preparing a meal using adapted recipes and kitchen tools or setting up a play experience so a child with sensory abnormalities can feel his/her body movements without being overwhelmed.

The work environment of occupational therapists is as varied as the kinds of clients they treat. Treatment may take place in a hospital, school, community, work, or home environment.

These are just a few examples of the types of settings where occupational therapists work:

  • In a school situation, an occupational therapist may help a child develop the skills needed to integrate and organize perceptual, motor, and sensory information for learning.
  • In a community setting, the therapist may focus on wellness and establish a gardening group for elders or a game group for adults with developmental disabilities that will be led by volunteers.
  • Therapists may teach a shelter resident with limited cognitive abilities how to use public transportation so he/she can find employment or work with nurses in developing teaching materials to give to cognitively impaired teenagers who need to learn health promotion skills.
  • Therapists working in home care enter the homes of clients and teach dressing, cooking, bathing, and social activities that lead to increased independence.

Occupational therapy is a fast-growing profession. The need for occupational therapists is sure to increase as medical science discoveries continue to save and prolong lives. These advances will result in greater numbers of individuals who have functional limitations. The increased recognition of developmental and learning disabilities in children and the increase in the aging population have also increased the demand for occupational therapists.

Primary areas of employment include public or private schools, early intervention programs, facilities for the elderly, rehabilitation and general hospitals, and psychiatric or mental health institutions. Others work for home health agencies, wellness centers, private practices, and colleges and universities.


Paula Kramer
BS, MA, PhD (New York University)
Professor of Occupational Therapy
Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215.596.8767

Michelle E. Cohen
BA (Beaver); MEd, PhD (Temple)
Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy
Associate Dean, Samson College of Health Sciences
Phone: 215.596.8540

Roger I. Ideishi
BS (Washington); JD (Temple)
Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215.596.8499

Pamalyn J. Kearney
BS, MS (Thomas Jefferson)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Vice Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215.596.8493

Rochelle Mendonca
BOT (Maharashtra University, India); MS, PhD (Wisconsin)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215.895.1170

Carlos E. Moreno
BA (Lincoln); MS (Temple)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Academic Fieldwork Coordinator
Phone: 215.895.1172

Jennifer Sambrook Pitonyak
BA (Allegheny College); MS (Washington University of St. Louis)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215.596.8694

Ruth L. Schemm
BS (Pennsylvania); MEd, EdD (Temple)
Professor of Health Policy
Dean Emeritus of Health Sciences
Phone: 215.596.8990

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