Preparing for a Career in Occupational Therapy

My name is Hannah Lepordo and I am part of the 2021 graduating class. At Wheaton, I am a neuroscience major on an occupational therapy track. During this past summer, I worked with a self employed physical therapist named Joe Cavallaro. I worked as his volunteer interim and assisted him by working with his clients over periodic zoom meetings. Working in physical therapy, Joe showed me how to develop specific treatment plans for his clients. These plans typically involve stretching, strength training, exercises and physical manipulation to help them retrain damaged or injured muscles. For example, one of his clients, Susan, came to us with a tight and painful lower back. He showed me the necessary exercises and stretches he wanted to use to work the muscles in the lower back to loosen these muscles and alleviate her pain. From playing sports, I have a lot of knowledge about strength exercises and stretch work. I was able to demonstrate the necessary exercises/stretches and give her step by step guidance in performing them correctly. 

The prerequisite courses required for physical therapy are similar to occupational therapy at Wheaton College, thus these courses prepared me with knowledge that I was able to apply to a real hands on experience. For example, I have taken classes like anatomy and physiology, both of which are crucial for physical therapy. When working with Susan, I was able to understand why her lower back was so painful. She had something called “Lower Cross Syndrome”, where tight and weak hips cause lower back tightness. Instead of treating her lower back, we had Susan do several hip exercises and stretches to strengthen her hips and relieve back pain. As PTs, we tracked her progress over a 6 week span and adjusted her exercises/stretches accordingly!