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Pooling Their Knowledge

CSU partnered with the Seven Hills Recreation Center to improve sensory processing and socialization for children with special needs through a pediatric aquatic therapy program. 

Five master of occupational therapy students worked with faculty member Kristen Pataki to develop the program which was implemented this past spring with seven children. The team created assessment tools to measure participant progress and the effectiveness of various activities in improving socialization and sensory processing. Activities included increasing water tolerance, exposure to multi-sensory inputs and game-playing designed to increase comfort and swimming skills in the water.

“There has been very little research on the use of water as a therapeutic tool for children with sensory processing issues,” notes Dr. Pataki, assistant clinical professor of health sciences. “This project is allowing us to gain valuable data on the effectiveness of this type of activity, while also providing an amazing Engaged Learning experience for our students.”

The team developed a series of goals for each child in the program, focused on sensory processing, engagement/participation and behavior. Eighty percent of these goals were achieved and seventy-one percent were exceeded by the end of the first three months. Dr. Pataki is now working with a new group of occupational therapy students to offer a second aquatic therapy group to further data collection and enhance outcomes. 

Dr. Pataki hopes to turn the program with Seven Hills into a regular service learning opportunity for CSU students while providing regular therapy for children.

“This effort is really a win-win. The children benefit from the play-based aquatic program, while the students learn important clinical skills. I am delighted to continue our partnership with Seven Hills for the benefit of children with special needs, our students and the greater Cleveland community,” she adds.


CSU doctoral students completed a near clean sweep at the annual Ohio Physical Therapy Association student awards. 

Lorenzo Bianco was named Outstanding Student of the Year for his academic record and commitment to research and community service. He is working with Ann Reinthal, associate professor of health sciences, to investigate the design and use of modified harness systems to improve balance training and confidence for stroke victims. 

Taylor Augustine won the Federal Advocacy Essay Contest for a series of reforms to address key policy issues facing PT practitioners. For her efforts, she won a scholarship to attend the American Physical Therapy Association’s Federal Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C. 

In addition, a CSU student team won OPTA’s Academic Challenge, a Jeopardy-style contest of general knowledge in the field, and the Volunteer Challenge which recognizes the PT program with the most number of community service hours during the academic year. 

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