Occupational Therapy students learn about sensory processing at renowned OT clinic

Two female students sit in a hanging tool for children at an occupational therapy clinic
Master of Science in Occupational Therapy students Taylor McPartlin, left, and Kaitlyn Bubnowicz, both of the Class of 2024, at the OTA-Koomar Center in Newton, Massachusetts.

A group of 26 students in the University of New England Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (M.S.O.T) program recently traveled to an internationally recognized occupational therapy clinic, where they participated in lab work to further their understanding of sensory integration and processing.

The students ventured to the OTA-Koomar Center in Newton, Massachusetts, on Feb. 4. There, they participated in a two-hour lab related to sensory integration, a practice that aims to help individuals with sensory processing difficulties by using specialized equipment and advanced training to address sensory processing barriers that interfere with everyday life. This annual trip occurs during the spring semester while students are taking the course Occupational Therapy and Children and Youth.

In the lab, UNE students analyzed sensory integration equipment and methods to determine what sensory systems are targeted with each piece of equipment and how that sensory input relates to day-to-day function and engagement in occupations. Students were given the opportunity to experience the equipment for themselves and learn from occupational therapists employed by the Koomar Center.

One of the therapists, Erica White, M.S.O.T. ’19, was present and facilitated the lab experience. Second year student Krysten Abboud, who is currently at the Koomar Center for her Level II fieldwork experience, was also present to facilitate the lab.

“The trip provided deeper insight into the frame of reference of sensory integration and addressed how goals in a clinic relate to function within natural settings,” said Kris Winston, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA, program director and associate professor of occupational therapy at UNE.

The OTA-Koomar Center is internationally recognized for its innovation, research, treatment, and evaluation of children, youth, and adults with sensory integration and sensory processing challenges. The center was named for the late Jane Koomar, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA, who served as a mentor to Elizabeth Crampsey, Ed.D, OTR/L, BCPR, associate clinical professor of occupational therapy at UNE.

Crampsey and Jamie Harmon, MOTR/L, NTP, assistant clinical professor, participated in the learning experience with the students.

The full group at the OTA-Koomar Center