Local occupational therapist lends a hand to Korean colleagues

If you lost the use of your hands or legs, or were deaf or blind, your day-to-day activities would become significantly more challenging. Luckily, there are professionals who could help you meet those challenges in the United States. One is the occupational therapist.

“People hear the word ‘occupational’ and think it just refers to your job,” says Hanna Hyon, who just received a master’s in occupational therapy from Samson College of Health Sciences at the University of the Sciences. “But actually, it’s all your activities — all the ways you occupy your time.” This includes job-related activities, but also cooking and cleaning. It also means hobbies, sports and games.

“In the U.S., patients are entitled to this assistance,” Hyon explains, referring to the Americans with Disabilities Act. “In other countries, that is not the case, because of cultural and political differences.” Hyon is about to learn about those differences in Korea: She will spend a year of study there under the prestigious Fulbright Foreign Student Program.

She’ll work with occupational and physical therapists at Far East University, the host institution, as well as patients at the national rehabilitation center. She’ll research the kinds of equipment available to those in need and attitudes about using that equipment.

Talking the talk

Hyon is also excited about visiting Korea because she is of Korean descent. But her parents are from Brazil, so she only has one relative there.

“I speak Korean fairly well at a conversational level, but will be taking classes,” she says, focusing on interactions with patients. Since most students learn English from a fairly young age, she should be able to communicate easily with her colleagues.

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