Grant Supports Center for Life Skills

02/17/2003

Contributed by Joanne Hindman

Developed through Ithaca College's School of Health Sciences and Human Performance, the Center for Life Skills at Longview has been providing rehabilitation therapies to area residents suffering from strokes and other chronic neurological disorders.

Thanks to a three-year, $264,000 grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, the program at the center is about to be significantly expanded.

"The Center for Life Skills has been in operation for almost two years and has been very successful," says Melinda Cozzolino, clinical assistant professor of occupational therapy at Ithaca College and project director of the grant. "However, much work needs to be accomplished to enhance the interdisciplinary education component."

Because allied health programs traditionally train students through classroom and laboratory work as well as clinical experiences focused solely on their own disciplines, students often have few opportunities to learn in settings with other allied health students and faculty.

"This is particularly inappropriate for preparing students to work with clients who are older adults or neurologically impaired," says Cozzolino. "Those individuals tend to suffer from multiple and interrelated health problems that require the intervention of multiple allied health disciplines."

The grant will support a program that involves rural health practitioners as well as faculty and students from the disciplines of occupational therapy, physical therapy, therapeutic recreation, speech-language pathology, audiology, and gerontology. The grant will also strengthen the allied health curriculum in the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance by offering independent studies, clinical placements, and interdisciplinary seminar courses. In addition, the grant supports the development of an instructional manual that can be used by other colleges and universities interested in establishing an interdisciplinary program in their communities.

"Because of limits in health care benefits, clients are often discharged to the community before they reach their maximum level of function," Cozzolino says. "The Center for Life Skills is responding to the increasing evidence that the functioning of chronic stroke patents can improve beyond the prescribed rehabilitation stage. A well-functioning interdisciplinary team of allied health professionals has been proven to decrease costs and increase the efficiency of the health care system."

Located off Route 96B, Longview is an adult residential facility with 101 independent living apartments and a 60-room licensed adult home. Longview has entered into a partnership with Ithaca College that creates an intergenerational lifestyle where residents, students, and faculty benefit from shared resources, including the Center for Life Skills. Individuals who have experienced a stroke or other neurological disorder and wish to participate in the spring or fall 2003 sessions may call (607) 375-6312 or visit www.ithaca.edu/lifeskills.

Members of the Project Advisory Committee for the grant are Janice Monroe, associate professor of therapeutic recreation and leisure services; Donna Twardowski, intergenerational program coordinator and clinical assistant professor of occupational therapy; Susan Durnford, clinical instructor of speech-language pathology and audiology; Katy Beissner, professor of physical therapy; Catherine Gooch, Center for Life Skills program manager; and Pamela Mayberry, associate director/academic program coordinator at the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute.

For more information contact Cozzolino at (607) 274-3618 or at mcozzoli@ithaca.edu.
Author: Keith Davis (kdavis@ithaca.edu)

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