Arnold student wants to help others be more independent


December 13, 2007

Arnold resident Crystal Rosner, 23, is a strong proponent of progress.

More than metropolitan modernization and technology, Rosner is concerned with the progress of individuals.

As an occupational therapy student at Maryville University, Rosner said she is interested in seeing people decrease their dependence on others.”It’s just being able to help people be more independent,” Rosner said about her major.

Rosner first became interested in occupational therapy from spending time with family members who worked as physical and occupational therapists.

“I did a lot of observing,” Rosner said. “I just really fell in love with it.”

At Maryville, third-year students, such as Rosner, in Assistant Professor Ashlyn Cunningham’s Occupational Therapy Evaluation class, take the skills they learn in the classroom into the community for job site evaluations.

“This helps them understand they can evaluate environments as well as people,” Cunningham said.

The 28 students in the course were divided into teams as they went out to six homes in south St. Louis County. While in the field, the students prepared Home Safety Assessments. The assessment measures the safety of people’s homes, calculating the probability of dangers such as falling.

The project served as the third of its kind in the class. Previous evaluations involved preschoolers and working adults.

“This helps them look at evaluations across the life span,” Cunningham said.

Although this year marks her third teaching the class, this is Cunningham’s first semester using elderly adults as a subject.

“I’m really happy I chose to do this,” Cunningham said. “The majority were very happy to have the evaluations or to have the company.”

Rosner finds the class useful.

“It’s nice to actually go out into the community and apply what we learn,” Rosner said.

She added that she was interested to see results of the home assessments. Throw rugs turned out to be a major hazard in many homes, likely to cause injuries by trips and falls. Students sponsored a bake sale to raise money to buy safety equipment for the homes they visited.

The $300 collected from the bake sale will be divided among the six groups of students in the class and used to buy night-lights, non-slip rugs and other safety materials. In two weeks the students will return to the homes, report their findings, present their safety gifts and offer suggestions to further reduce the risk of injury within those homes.

Occupational therapy is important to the elderly, especially stroke victims and those who struggle to get around on their own. Occupational therapists help older adults learn to shower and dress themselves when it has been a physical challenge to do so.

“We help them become independent in everyday activities,” Rosner said.

The work of an occupational therapist is not only helpful for the older adults. Rosner’s primary interest is in pediatric care.

“I like to work with the kids,” she said.

She recently performed a clinical with a school district working with children who have learning disabilities or sensory issues. She also helps young students with handwriting and fine motor skills.

“It was nice to see how happy the parents were to see their kids make progress,” Rosner said.

Striving to help individuals follow that same path of progress has become Rosner’s joy.


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