The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

Students face challenges in disability simulation

Carley Nail

ULM’s Master of Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Physical Therapy programs invited students, staff and faculty to the Quad on Thursday to participate in their “Experiencing Life with Challenges” project. This project gave students the opportunity to participate in simulations of different mental and physical challenges.

Daily activities like pouring cereal, doing laundry, getting dressed and even walking around can present a challenge for those with mental and physical disabilities.

This event had over 15 tables of simulations, showing what life is like for those who have certain disabilities or challenges. These included rotator cuff injury, schizophrenia, blindness and tactile processing sensory disorder.

Occupational therapy and physical therapy are two primary health care specialists who aid in the quality of life, constantly making improvements for individuals with mental and physical challenges. 

“We have many programs and professors here today to immerse themselves into the event,” Emily Mike, an associate professor in the Master of Occupational Therapy program, said. “A great outcome from today is that health sciences students and staff are getting to experience this, so they can relate to their patients more.”

When the dental hygiene students visited the tactile processing sensory disorder simulation, they discussed how they had children with autism come into their clinic. 

During procedures, they put a lot of different flavors and textures into the children’s mouths. This simulation gave the hygienists a better understanding of what the children were going through.

Many of these disabilities and challenges can often be overlooked. At the schizophrenia table, participants solved a word search while given headphones of static audio and undistinguishable clips of voices. To add to the simulation, the students flashed lights and tapped on the participant’s shoulders while they worked.

“Events like these bring awareness to disabilities and impairments that are otherwise unknown,” physical therapy student Johnathan Hutchinson said. “People live with these every day, and they must keep the quality of their life high so they can thrive.”

Students from all majors got to experience firsthand these assorted challenges. “I gained an understanding of living with a disability,” freshman toxicology major Gwen Abadie said. “The tactile sensory stimulation was difficult as it left me hyper-aware of everything touching me.”

As people get out of their comfort zone to experience these difficult situations, they learn that others face them every day.  

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