UW-Madison OT Program - 2011 OT Matters - Program News - AOTA Presentations and Beyond

OT student doing research with child


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OT Faculty and Students Make Strong Showing at AOTA

Elise Puraccio (class of 2010), Cassie Riccioli (class of 2011) and Asst. Professor Julia Wilbarger presented the results of two studies exploring sensory over-responsiveness in women with fibromyalgia at the AOTA National Conference in Philadelphia last spring. Women with fibromyalgia show increased sensory over-responsiveness on both self report measures of sensory defensiveness and via physiological responses to multiple modalities of sensation compared same age women who were either pain free or who were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Further, increased sensory over-responsiveness is associated with decreased participation in daily activities and poorer ratings of heath and well-being. Some the results of these studies were recently published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. These are the first studies to explore SOR and its connection to participation and well being in FM within occupational therapy. The research was funded through the Virginia Horne Henry Fund.

Mary Schneider presented at the AOTA Research Colloquium and Tea. The colloquium topic was: Translational Research on Sensory Processing in Occupational Therapy: Mapping a Path from Cages to Clinics. Schneider’s presentation was entitled “A non-human primate model of atypical sensory processing: Brain, behavior, stress reactivity and genes.” Schneider’s presentation addressed how animal models are useful in delineating the biological vulnerabilities and mechanisms that underlie sensory processing disorder. A better understanding of the biological mechanisms of sensory processing disorders is clearly needed in order to prevent and treat this disorder. Non-human primate models are useful because of their genetic, physiological, neuroanatomical and behavioral similarities to humans. She discussed the relationship between sensory processing function, stress reactivity, serotonergic and dopaminergic function and alcohol consumption patterns in adulthood. A lively student panel followed, which included students working with the researchers. Miriam Adkins, a second year student in the MSOT program in Spring 2011 provided rich and interesting questions for the discussion. Grace Baranek (human study) and Stacey Reynolds (rodent study) also presented their research.

OT Around the World

Mary Schneider presented at the 5th Conference of Epidemiological Longitudinal Studies in Paphos, Cyprus from Oct. 13-15, 2010: “Prospective longitudinal primate study of prenatal stress and alcohol exposure: Brain, behavior, stress reactivity, and genes.” She also presented at the Conference on Alcoholism and Stress: A framework for Future Treatment Strategies in Volterra, Italy from May 3-6, 2011: “The role of prenatal stress and/or alcohol exposure on neurobehavior, stress reactivity, and brain function in a primate model.”

Dorothy Edwards gave two presentations at the International Congress on Alzheimer's Disease in Paris, France from July 17-21, 2011: “Do African Americans Have the Same TOMM40 Distributions as Caucasians? Preliminary Results from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention”; and “An Innovative Outreach and Service Model of African American Recruitment for AD Research.”

Elizabeth Larson presented her research on indicators of caregivers well-being in fall 2011 in London, Canada at the joint U.S. and Canada Occupational Science Conference. This paper has been published in issue 17 of Occupational Therapy International. More recently she presented at the University of Leeds in the UK at the Sixth Annual Conference on Mixed Methods Research in June, 2012. She spoke on how mixed methods can be used to refine well-being theory. Using surveys and interviews she compared how caregivers' well-being was characterized differently by each of these methods.

Julia Wilbarger presented a two-day course on sensory defensiveness in London July of 2011 for a private practice called Fairplay Associates.

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