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3/5/2022 - ConnOTA Annual Virtual Spring Conference
Saturday, March 05, 2022, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM EDT
Category: Events

2022 ConnOTA Virtual Spring Conference - Saturday, March 5th, 2022


Detailed Conference Schedule HERE

Virtual conference on Zoom

Earn up to 7.0 CEUs!




Schedule of Events 

8:00-8:30AM                  President’s Welcome and Annual Business Meeting (.5 CEU)
8:30-8:50AM                  ConnOTA Awards
8:50-9:00AM                  Chair Yoga and Intention Setting
9:00-9:30AM                  CT OT Legislative Update (.5 CEU)
9:30-10:00AM                CT OT Scope of Practice Revision Update (.5 CEU)
10:00-10:15AM              CT AOTA RA Update (.25 CEU)
10:15-10:30AM              Break
10:30-11:30AM              Keynote Address (1.0 CEU)                                                                   
11:30-11:45AM              Break
11:45-12:45PM              Educational Session 1 (1.0 CEU)
12:45-1:15PM                Lunch Break/ Networking/ Government Affairs Meeting
                                       (.5 CEU for Gov’t Affairs)
1:15-2:15PM                  Educational Session 2 (1.0 CEU)
2:15-2:30PM                  Break
2:30-3:15PM                  Poster Session (.75 CEU)
3:15-3:30PM                  Break
3:30-4:30PM                  Educational Session 3 (1.0 CEU)
4:30PM                           Raffle


You may attend parts of the conference or all sessions.  You will receive CEUs for only those sessions that you attend (up to 7.0 CEUs).  Handouts may be available prior to the conference, if provided by the speaker. 



Cancellations must be received by email by March 1, 2022 to receive a refund, minus a $20 admin fee.  No refunds will be made after this date.

Members: $85                                             Student Members: $25                 

Non-members: $100                                  Student Non-members: $35

Session DescriptionsHERE


Keynote Address:

Overcoming Crisis: Exploring the Many Skills and Talents of Occupational Therapy

Lou Figueroa

Inspirational Speaker and Train Accident Survivor



In this keynote presentation, attendees will hear Lou’s amazing story of survival and his transformation from wheelchair to walking again. He shares how tragic events can lead to depression, PTSD, and the inability to cope with limb loss.  Lou highlights his recovery with a focus on activities of daily living, functional transfers, mental health and wellness, and collaborative care following traumatic events. Attendees will hear how occupational therapy taught him the life skills necessary to function in everyday environments.



Connecticut Occupational Therapy Scope of Practice Revision Update


Judith Sheehan, OTR/L, CFO Past President, ConnOTA

Joyce Rioux,EdD, OTR/L, SCSS, FAOTA

Elaine Adams, MPPA, OTR/L, FAOTA



The current scope of practice, which Connecticut clinicians have been utilizing, was developed through the intense efforts of the OT board in the 1970’s.  Since that time, the practice of Occupational Therapy has evolved.  We have witnessed many attempted encroachments to our current scope and have fielded many questions from clinicians as to the ability to perform specific activities under our scope.  


Our fellow State Associations have worked diligently in the past several years to update their scopes of practice as external challenges from other professions have affected them. We have been fortunate to have had access to their work and have utilized AOTA’s Model Scope of Practice in the development of our revision. In addition, we have consulted with all of the Connecticut OT/OTA programs and have offered many opportunities for their input in the development. We have held 3 SIS sessions with fellow members/clinicians to provide opportunities for refinement. In this session, clinicians will assess the merits of the revised scope in relation to their current employment setting and areas of practice and provide constructive suggestions to improve its clarity and scope.


Session 1A

Updates to the New AOTA Fieldwork Performance Evaluation


Michele Tarantino OTD, MPH, OTR/L, CLVT

Susan Higgins OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA



This presentation will be an overview of the new AOTA Fieldwork Performance Evaluation.  We will review the literature and share information from AJOT.  We will discuss specific changes in items and scorings as well as the new Formstack Link and how it applies.  There will be a review of common problems with Formstack and frequently asked questions. The presentation will conclude with overview of the Fieldwork Certificate Program and some resources for the participants. 



Session 1B


Pediatric Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): Occupational Therapy Interventions in the Outpatient Setting


Veronica Mingolelli, MS, OTR/L, SCFES



In this session, the speaker will review current evidence-based OT interventions for children and adolescents presenting with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) symptoms, particularly for clients with ARFID in a pediatric outpatient setting.

Current best practice research on ARFID is of unique interest to pediatric OTs addressing pediatric feeding issues in outpatient and community clinics, Birth to Three, or schools. This course will present current research with a focus on intervention to equip pediatric therapists with knowledge and resources to more effectively provide occupational therapy intervention to children and adolescents presenting with ARFID symptoms.

Session 1C

Getting Back to Occupation: Occupation-based Kits and Interventions

Mandy Chamberlain MOTR/L



Feeling like you are stagnant in creating client-centered occupation based interventions? Or maybe you work in a facility where exercise is the “end-all, be-all” of OT treatment strategies? Let’s get your creative juices flowing by reviewing the evidence, working through a case study, and brainstorming ideas on how to bring occupation back into your OT practice! Activity analysis will be the focus on ways to address multiple different diagnoses, limitations, and occupational deficits.  We will dive into how to create occupation-based kits for your facility, saving time, and improving client outcomes.


Session 2A

Survival of the Telerehab Platform Post-pandemic: Creative OT Interventions

Ana Hancock OTD, OTR/L

Melissa Anderson OTD, OTR/L



This presentation will provide clinicians with creative interventions to utilize with their clients within their functional environment. With a continued shift in rehab and the use of technology, Telerehabilitation is here to stay! Participants will learn clinical principles when using a telehealth platform, outlining ways to incorporate objective information, and creative ways to deliver OT services. This presentation will also highlight client case studies with use of videos to provide visual examples of plan of care used with adults in the Telerehabilitation setting.


Session 2B

Exercise Programs Can Support Self-Regulation and Functional Cognition in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Panagiotis (Panos) A. Rekoutis PhD., OTR/L

with Dimitropoulou, K., Hamed, R. T., Fink-Wallach, J. R., Iodice, S. G., Kim, J. S., Lacy, A. M., Reyes, C. J.


Is exercise beneficial for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? Are the benefits limited to fitness? Are there types of exercise that can support functional abilities? Should occupational therapists incorporate exercise in treatment programs and sensory diets of children with ASD? To address these questions, in addition to anecdotal clinical experience we conducted a scoping literature review to examine the role of exercise in improving self-regulation (i.e., stereotypies, inhibitory control of action, etc.) and functional cognition (i.e., task engagement and attention, ability to follow instructions, etc.) in children and adolescents with ASD. We reviewed original research articles published within the last 10 years. The review targeted outcomes of stereotypic behaviors and/or academic performance, attention to task, task engagement, ability to follow directions, and social regulation/participation. Exercise interventions were delivered for individuals or groups and included specific regiments of aerobic, strengthening, or combined protocols. Exercise instruction was either conducted in person or via virtual exercise forums. Upon final screening 22 articles met our review criteria. Movement and exercise programs used were variable in content, intensity, frequency and duration. For example, studies examined exergaming, motor skill instructions, yoga, movement focused video games, physical exercise (e.g. running, jogging, and indoor trampolines), music therapy, water exercise, mind-body exercises, group exercises, aerobic exercise (e.g. treadmills, bikes, and elliptical), ball tapping exercises, and/or martial arts. Our findings suggest that different types of exercise can have different effects. Aerobic exercise can contribute to reduction in stereotypies, aggressive, and antisocial behaviors, and seems to contribute to increased positive behaviors. Movement based interventions were shown to improve balance and coordination. Mind-body focused programs contribute to improved self- and inhibitory control. Additional results will be discussed in conjunction with examples of specific exercise protocols that occupational therapists can integrate in their clinical practice and outcomes to measure effectiveness. We will present specific clinical cases to demonstrate use of these protocols and outcomes in a school setting for children and adolescents with ASD. The presented information will enable occupational therapists to implement and monitor movement and exercise protocols and measure clinically significant outcomes based on evidence based practice.


Session 2C


Workforce Development Opportunity for Community-based Practitioners in CT: Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders (CAPABLE) and Care of Persons with Dementia in their Environment (COPE)


Caroline Kate Keefe OTD, OTR/L

Alice Bonner PhD, RN

Catherine Verrier Piersol PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA



OT interventions improve behavioral symptom management, preserve function, prevent unnecessary psychotropic medications and early placement in skilled nursing settings. These interventions are designed to instill knowledge, skills, and preparedness improving self-efficacy, QOL, health and well-being for all. As the baby-boom generation comes of age of, more people choose to age in place rather than move to residential or skilled nursing settings. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on how people wish to remain in the community. This panel discussion will focus on two evidence-based occupational therapy interventions designed to be delivered to persons who are aging in the community: frail elders who wish to age in place and persons living with dementia - Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders (CAPABLE) and Care of Persons with Dementia in their Environment (COPE). Experts from the field of nursing and occupational therapy will provide an overview of CAPABLE and COPE. Participants will learn how the Department of Social Services is enacting a major federally funded grant project to advance workforce development and improve the lives of its residents through evidence-based certification/training for occupational therapists and other allied health professionals.

Session 3A

Creative Solutions in Birth to Three

Sarah Psillas PhD, OTR/L, CEIS


Birth to three provides various therapy services to children and their family within the home and community settings. In the state of Connecticut, there is a wide variety of populations served (socioeconomic, cultural, disability status, etc.). Occupational therapy practitioners are often educating families and other providers about the coaching model and its unique provision of services. This impacts how assistive technology is provided to children as well as requiring practitioners to also be creative in creating or finding lower technology options for families in need. In this course, participants will learn the main principles of early intervention, provision of assistive technology (low and high tech), how it differs from other settings, and how to create low-tech options. After completing this short course, participants will have a better understanding and ability to explain the coaching model and have multiple ideas for adaptive equipment.


Session 3B

Perceptions of Informal Caregivers and Implications for OT Interventions

Gӧsta (Gus) Schlegel MPS, OTR/L CHES, CAPS, PhD Candidate


During this one-hour presentation, participants will learn about the demographics of informal caregiving.  The characteristics of informal caregivers, the many factors that influence informal caregiving, and the perceptions of those influences.  Participants will also learn about caregiver burden and the potential effects of caregiver burden.  Participants will then explore ways to assess informal caregivers and the caregiver – care recipient dyad, and then learn how to provide interventions to increase their sense of being supported, and strategies to decrease caregiver burden and mitigate the potential negative effects of that burden.  The session with end in a brief discussion to allow participants to share their unique perspectives on informal caregiver interactions.  


Session 3C

Mobilizing Mindfulness to Combat Adversity: How Occupational Therapy Practitioners Can Help Themselves and Others During Challenging Times

Lola Halperin EdD, OTR/L


According to the American Psychological Association ([APA], 2021), the nation is currently faced with a mental health crisis that might have severe adverse effects in a long run. Among the most commonly identified stressors are the COVID19 pandemic, mass shootings, climate change, increasing suicide rates, opioid epidemic, current state of healthcare and economy, various forms of discrimination, political division and uncertainty about the future (APA, 2021). Healthcare providers practicing in the US are presently reporting high levels of stress, fear of contracting/transmitting COVID19, exhaustion and fatigue, concerns about the well-being of their family members and lack of emotional supports (Benhamou & Piedra, 2020; Mental Health America, 2021; Shanafelt et al., 2020). Cognitive-behavioral therapy strategies, including mindfulness, can be instrumental when combating a mental health crisis (Benhamou & Piedra, 2020). Mindfulness is defined as the “ability to be fully present and aware, without overreacting or becoming overwhelmed” (Mindful, 2021) and can help reduce stress levels (American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA], 2021; Mindful, 2021). This presentation will address common daily stressors affecting occupational therapy practitioners and their clients currently. A number of cognitive-behavioral strategies that can assist with overcoming these stressors will be discussed and practiced. Mindfulness techniques will be explained and illustrated.