The recent USC Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Forum brought together students and faculty from USC’s top-ranked therapy professions for an evening of interdisciplinary learning and collaborative problem-solving. The event was hosted as a joint effort between Pi Theta Epsilon, the USC chapter of the national occupational therapy student honor society, and the USC Physical Therapy Student Association.
The evening began with an informal viewing of research posters displaying current studies and publications by faculty, staff and students. The audience was then welcomed by James Gordon, associate dean and chair of the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, and Julie McLaughlin Gray, director of the USC master’s degree program in Occupational Therapy. Gordon and Gray conveyed the necessity of interprofessional collaboration in delivering quality care to patients.
Pairs of occupational therapists and physical therapists also presented case studies from their practices. Cases included outpatient treatment of a person with Multiple Sclerosis, orthopaedic rehabilitation at Keck Medical Center of USC and acute care scenarios at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The therapist pairs explained the reasoning behind their assessment, treatments and goals, highlighting ways in which interdisciplinary collaboration improved real-world treatment and outcomes.
“It was rewarding to look around the room and see occupational therapy and physical therapy students talking and interacting with students from the other discipline,” said Ingrid Leu, vice president of Pi Theta Epsilon.
Stephen Peres, president of the physical therapy class of 2014, noted that he “liked to pick the occupational therapy students’ brains about assessments to see if physical therapy assessments are applicable and if the vocabulary is similar.”
While often working side by side in health and rehabilitation settings, occupational therapists and physical therapists each have unique roles in the provision of clinical care. While occupational therapy is principally concerned with improving a person’s ability to perform his or her everyday activities, physical therapy is primarily concerned with improving a person’s mobility or movement.
What Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy do have in common at USC is that both currently hold the No. 1 ranking by U.S. News & World Report of educational programs in their respective disciplines.
The USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy has held the top ranking of occupational therapy graduate education for more years than all other programs in the country combined, while the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy has held the top ranking of physical therapy graduate education since 2004.