Clinical Research Track Experiences: Work Participation Laboratory

Annaliese Boot, MSOT ’14, Danielle Wojtkiewicz, MSOT ’14, and Katherine Wycoff, MSOT ’14
Clinical Research Track: Work Participation Laboratory

Why did you choose the clinical research track option for your degree?
We are all interested in going into hand therapy in the future, and we knew that this research lab would provide us with the most experience and exposure to this specialized area of occupational therapy. We enjoy hands and upper extremity rehabilitation because our hands are integral to so many daily activities, and injuries to the upper extremity can have numerous implications on work, leisure, and self-care tasks.

Briefly describe the research lab you chose.
We are in Dr. Vicki Kaskutas’ Work Participation Lab focusing on peripheral nerve disorders and upper extremity rehabilitation. Our research team has definitely bonded throughout the two years together.  It has been a great experience to be part of a team, and to capitalize on each person’s strengths. Not only have we worked hard, but we also have had a lot of memorable moments together.

What project/s are you involved with in your lab?
Together, as a research team, we investigated the changes in activity participation following upper extremity peripheral nerve repair. We had the opportunity to present our research outcomes at two national conferences, the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and this was a way to begin to give back to the OT community. Also, we’ve had the opportunity to observe and interact with the multidisciplinary team and patients at Dr. Susan Mackinnon’s peripheral nerve clinic. Additionally, for the past two years, we were also able to volunteer at and host the ASHT Comprehensive Hand Therapy Review Course here at Washington University.   

How would you describe this experience to prospective students who may be interested in clinical research?
Research is such a valuable skill to have, even for students who don’t plan to pursue a future career in research. Through this process, we have learned the importance of evidence-based practice and have seen the importance of monitoring outcomes throughout the therapy process. In order to make the most of our time and our patients’ time, we need to make sure we are being effective in our treatment sessions, and the ultimate way to ensure that occurs is through research and implementing evidence-based practices.

How will this clinical research experience contribute to your career?
Through this research experience, we’ve learned the importance of having a holistic perspective of each patient we work with to determine his or her unique needs and challenges. Not only do we want to consider someone’s strength and range of motion, but we want to be attuned to the psychosocial issues an individual may be dealing with. We also want to keep activity participation at the heart of the treatment continuum for all patients.

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