Celebration of Scholarly Works Showcases Impactful Research

March 23, 2023

As a former first responder who works as an imaging specialist at Providence Holy Family Hospital, in north Spokane, Chris Garrison knows what trauma can do to the human body.

“I’ve seen a lot of people with strokes or spinal cord injuries, or something that has been substantially life-changing in that moment, and then I don’t know what happens to them afterwards.”

So, Garrison decided to connect the dots and pursue a Master of Occupational Therapy degree from Eastern Washington University: “I’ve put a lot into saving someone’s life and now I want to put a lot into helping them live it.”

The 42-year-old from Colville, Washington was among dozens of students and graduate students to submit research projects for the 2023 Celebration of Scholarly Works, held on March 21 at the Catalyst.

The EWU College of Health Science and Public Health (CHSPH) event garnered 72 submissions from undergraduates, graduates and faculty members representing Wellness and Movement Sciences, Dental Hygiene, Communications Sciences and Disorders, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.

Organizers of the symposium had to bring in additional judges because there were twice as many submissions from the 2022 event, said Danielle DiLuzio, OTD, assistant professor of occupational therapy.

“We didn’t expect it to get this big and we are already planning for next year,” DiLuzio said.

Among the disciplines represented, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CMSD) had the greatest number of submissions with 24 second-year graduate students submitting individual research projects.

Elizabeth Wilson-Fowler, PhD, professor and department chair, said each student researcher was mentored by CMSD faculty. The students did their projects while completing full-time supervised internships in different locations.

“We had students return for this required event from Hawaii, Eugene and Seattle,” Wilson-Fowler said.

The event was a compilation of works dedicated to improving the wellbeing of children and adults of diverse backgrounds. Projects explored topics ranging from improving postural stability for children on the autism spectrum to exploring if artificial sweeteners are detrimental to oral health.

“I just hope that you are as inspired as I am by the works presented today,” said Donna Mann, OTD, interim dean of the CHSPH, as she presented the awards.

Participating in the research symposium helps students advance individual knowledge while inspiring interprofessional partnerships as they build professional skills, Mann told the attendees.

The daylong symposium began with oral presentations. Later in the day, a panel of judges reviewed submissions and selected 12 team and individual projects to receive $250 and $500 awards provided by the Dean’s Office, the President’s Office and Academic Affairs.

Garrison and his occupational therapy team received the Critically Appraised Topics Award. Their project, Effects of Horticulture Therapy on Adults with Dementia, was the brainchild of a team member seeking to make a difference for her grandfather and other seniors battling dementia.

“She wanted to find ways to help him engage in life and not just sit on the couch,” Garrison said.

After reviewing their collective data, the team concluded that horticulture can indeed benefit patients with dementia, while recommending more research to identify specific methods of gardening that are most helpful.

Laurel Bancroft, 60, spent two decades as a certified occupational therapy assistant working with K-12 students attending Spokane Public Schools. Bancroft, who is now pursuing a Master of Occupational Therapy, submitted a capstone-thesis exploring how occupational therapy can support rural healthcare patients.

During the year-and-a-half spent researching the topic, she learned how difficult it can be for rural residents to access care.

“There truly is a lack of healthcare resources for those in rural communities,” Bancroft explained.

After graduating, Bancroft plans to move to Grainger, Washington to care for her parents and provide occupational therapy services in the lower Yakima Valley, which includes Native American and Hispanic farmworker communities.

Award presenters EWU President Shari McMahan, PhD, and Jonathan Anderson, PhD, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, have longstanding career experience in the health sciences.

They encouraged students to make a difference by sharing knowledge and collaborating with others as working professionals.

“You can make a profound community impact by getting out there,” McMahan said.

Click here for a list of Celebration of Scholarly Works’ submissions.

2023 Celebration of Scholarly Works Award Recipients:

IPE Award: Identification of Discipline Specific Scopes of Practice from Health Science Graduate Students: A Survey: Taylor Santoro from Communication Sciences and Disorders

Dean’s Award: Fatigue Patterns in People with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and their Caregivers: A Pilot Study: Rylee Price, Elena Crooks, Gina Spring, Douglass Weeks from Physical Therapy

Provost’s Award: Awareness of Occupational Therapy as a Career: A Casual Study: Susan Montague, Daniel Libertini, Maria Barrera, Katey Thompson from Occupational Therapy

President’s Award: Grieving After Traumatic Brain Injury: An Educational Video Series for Caregivers: Mariah McLeod, Katie Adkins Taylor Bingea and Hannah Hutchison from Occupational Therapy

Faculty Research: Implementing Collaborative Testing of Clinical Laboratory Skills: A Retrospective Case Study: Joel Sattgast from Physical Therapy

Undergraduate Scholarly Work: Modifying the American Fitness Index Toolkit to Assess the Health of a College Campus: Healthy Campus, Healthy Eagles: Analicia Garcia and Christine Macharia from Wellness and Movement Sciences

Graduate Scholarly Work: Impact of Age, Type, and Length of Foster Placement on Language and Literacy Development: A Literature Review: Mackenzie Monahan from Communication Sciences and Disorders

Work in Progress: The Physical and Psychological Performance Effects of Multi – Ingredient Pre – Workout Supplements in Females During Resistance Training: Mariah Snyder from Wellness and Movement Sciences

Faculty Choice: The Role of Occupational Therapy in Treating Individuals with Co-occurring Disorders: A Scoping Review: Sierra Stephens, Jamie Scarborough, Marco Garcia from Occupational Therapy Student Choice: Ketogenic Diet: Weight Loss or Bone Loss: Katelyn Drennon, Amanda Lane, Karliee Polinsky from Dental Hygiene

Education Impact: A Survey of Pre-service General Education Teachers’ Knowledge of AAC and SLP Collaboration: Kaitlyn Braunstein from Communication Sciences and Disorders

Critically Appraised Topics: Effects of Horticulture Therapy on Adults with Dementia: Hailey Ayers, Chris Garrison, Emily Link and Alicia Stewart from Occupational Therapy