A group of Occupational Therapy students and faculty members this week got a first-hand look at the new state-of-the-art amputee unit of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where many injured Iraqi war soldiers are being treated.
Major Arthur Yeager, MS, OTR, an ’02 graduate of the Occupational Therapy program, hosted the Philadelphia University group, who visited with patients, toured the facilities and learned about the latest in innovative treatments for amputees.
“This was an extraordinary opportunity for students to learn about the evaluation and treatment of injured soldiers at Walter Reed,” said Catherine Piersol, director of the Occupational Therapy program. “They’re doing things no one else is doing in amputee intervention and also with traumatic brain injuries.”
While occupational therapy students do work with amputees as part of their training, Piersol said, the patients often are older and have lost limbs because of a disease, such as diabetes. The students wouldn’t typically be exposed to the types of traumatic war injuries that patients at the army hospital have and the needs of younger amputees to regain the ability to work and live a full life in as normal a way as possible.
“The Walter Reed clinic was very different from what we would see in a typical hospital,” noted Michelle Khalsa, 26, a second-year OT student. “It was a very profound experience to see these young men and women about my age who are out there fighting for our country and coming back without limbs.”
And, Piersol added, “We came away from the tour with an appreciation for the important role occupational therapists play in the Army.”
Photo: First row (from left): OT students Jodi Chewning, Emma Silen, Katie Moscufo, Janelle Magee, Suzanne McDevitt, Donna Lynch, Nicole Montalto and Michelle Khalsa. Second row (from left): Eric Speight, Lauren Marcus, Erin Smith, Lauren Pizzi, Linda Mason, Tamika White and Sharon Hicks.