Gannon University is reopening the Little Knights Occupational Therapy (OT) Clinic to the public Friday after being closed for the summer while students were away. The clinic aims to provide care to children in need of occupational therapy.
Because there are only two other outpatient pediatric OT clinics in Erie, the goal of Little Knights is to increase accessibility of occupational therapy to children who may not have the opportunity otherwise
That fact, along with the rising out-of-pocket costs associated with occupational therapy sessions, leaves many patients untreated and in pain.
Gannon’s program is pro-bono, meaning that it is offered without charge to the patients, dramatically increasing the affordability of occupational therapy to the children and families in Erie.
“The Erie community now has a quality place where youth with special needs can go if they can’t get OT somewhere else because of waiting lists or health insurance barriers,” Dr. Julia Hawkins, the lead faculty adviser for the Little Knight Clinic, said.
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, access to occupational therapy can help improve the cognitive, sensory processing, communication and play skills of kids. This is why it is imperative that the kids who need help receive it. Helping the children of today ensures a better tomorrow.
By participating in the clinic, Gannon’s OT students have the opportunity to directly impact the community, while also creating an environment of immense learning.
Through the clinic, Gannon’s students learn in a hands-on fashion, experiencing the clinical setting before graduation. Students completely oversee patient evaluations and the rehabilitation process.
Healing patients and managing their treatment prepares students for their futures as professional occupational therapists.
“The students learn by actually practicing pediatric OT with licensed faculty present who can give feedback and support,” Hawkins said.
This system creates an environment that produces the best patient care while also allowing for the most comfortable learning. These immersive encounters are an incredible opportunity for students to gain practical experience, while also serving as an excellent resume point.
“It is always rewarding to serve members of our community and provide them with opportunities for laughter, growth and independence in their lives,” David LeVan, an associate professor in Gannon’s OT program said.
The Little Knights OT Clinic proves to Gannon’s OT students what an impact their profession will have on their patients.
By working and developing relationships with the kids, OT students can experience what it truly means to be an occupational therapist.
Participating students are all OT majors. The fourth-year students are the ones dealing directly with the patients and their treatments, while the third-year OT students observe the clinic to prepare them for their direct participation in their next year.
This allows for the continuation of the program for the entirety of the school year while the students are available.
The Little Knights Pro Bono Occupational Therapy Clinic is a program aimed at increasing our community’s public health.
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to participate in the Little Knights OT Clinic at Gannon,” first-year OT student Hannah Schuck said.
“Allowing students to experience firsthand what occupational therapy has to offer with the kids in our community is amazing.”