The Krysalis OT80 (2020) Celebrating Occupational Therapy

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The Krysalis OT80 (2020) Celebrating Occupational Therapy

Eighty inspirational ways around the world in which occupational therapy (OT) has advanced or influenced brain injury rehabilitation.

In the lead up to World Occupational Therapy Day on 27 October every year, we celebrate 80 heroes and happenings making occupational therapy history around the globe.

This year, the light falls extra brightly on all those impacted by Covid-19. The definitive 2020 Krysalis OT80 list is here:

No. 80: Dark by name, enlightened by OT! 

Mental health patient, Esther Dark was ‘difficult to engage’ and ‘treatment-resistant’ until she met an OT who not only changed her life but inspired her to become one! The happy ending here: The Guardian - How an Occupational Therapist gave hope

 No. 79: OT was Wonder Woman in ‘Prior’ life!

Rheumatology UK vice president and advanced clinical specialist OT, Dr Yeliz Prior stars in an NHS series of films – NHS Wonder Women - celebrating female diversity in health and social care research. Screening here: YouTube - NHS Wonder Women

No. 78:  The Great 8!

Find out why these 8 RCOT members won awards for activities in occupational therapy learning, development and research here:RCOT Celebrating excellence at the Occupational Therapy Awards 2020

No. 77: Chip off the OT block! 

Despite his autism, New Zealand OT’s son, Kai Seymon, 14, helps hundreds of thousands of mental health and Covid-19 stress sufferers with his simple yet brilliant invention. Entrepreneurial inspiration here: The Daily Mercury - 11 yr old autistic boys 300k idea!

No. 76:  It’s a wrap!

How an OT and her colleagues put their necks on the line for a brain-injured RAF veteran’s Help for Heroes scarf enterprise. Tie up loose ends:Newark Advertiser - RAF Veterans clothing line spreads cheer.


No. 75:


   You’d want someone to go out there and give them the best chance of surviving.   


A tragic tale but true to the profession, fearless OT, Alicia Bain swam to the aid of a dying surfer mauled by a great white shark off Australia’s Gold Coast. Tragedy struck  More here: Daily Mail. 

No. 74: 


   One thing brain surgeons do know for certain is that every brain can make a comeback following a devastating illness or injury.   


Inspiration and illumination in a neurosurgeon, Rahul Jandial’s new book, ‘Life Lessons from a Brain Surgeon,’ reviewed here: Life lessons from a brain surgeon.

No. 73: ‘Mask’ avenger!

Read my lips: face masks make lip-reading impossible. Now read how deaf South African OT, Tahseen Ahmed is tackling this communication barrier head-on:News 24 - Deaf occupational therapist shares her tips on communicating with the visually impaired through face masks.

No. 72: Viva OT! 

The ViVA OT project at Sheffield University has emerged as a front runner in the wake of Covid-19 in monitoring vital virtual home healthcare. Their latest findings in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) here: The British Journal of Occupational Therapy More about ViVA here: Viva!   

No. 71: Born in the USA!

Which group started 40 years ago and is the USA’soldest and largest brain injury advocacy organization? The answer here: 40 Years of hope and healing

No. 70: The OT angel in the rough.

Leeds occupational therapist Beth Skelton is part of a Covid-19 frontline team taking healthcare to the city’s rough sleepers and asylum seekers. Find her here: Health heroes caring for the homeless and most vulnerable during the covid 19 pandemic.

No. 69: The OT art master. 

War painter, Adrian Hill recognised the benefits of drawing while recovering from tuberculosis in a sanatorium and, in 1942, coined the term ‘art therapy’. More about the founder of the British Association of Art Therapists here: About the British Association of Art Therapists

No. 68: The wonderful Wizz of OT! 

Occupational therapists at UK charity Designability are clicking their heels three times and wishing their free Wizzybug powered wheelchairs could find new homes soon with under-fives in need. So what’s the hold-up? Find out here:

No 67: A fine family affair.

Not one, not two, but three OTs, all in the same Florida family household?  And it was all for the love of one extraordinary baby. A heart-warming story of hope, belief and dreams coming true here: An inspired family


No. 66: A new force for OT?

After the shooting of a young teenager with Asperger’s Disorder, US OT, Dr David Cacanindin has waded into the war over police firearms use with a controversial call for OTs to replace officers as first responders. His revolutionary observations here: OT Offers solutions for better outcomes with Police

No. 65: Roald, the Champion of the OT World!


   I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I'll put it before any of the things like courage or bravery or generosity or anything else.   

- Roald Dahl


Celebrated Welsh writer, Roald Dahl’s marvellous medical device saved thousands of children’s lives. He also pioneered neurorehabilitation techniques in response to his own brain injury and his first wife’s stroke. His work continues here: Roald Dahl Charity.

No. 64: Gene genius!

The largest-ever genetic study and new brain mapping methods are among the achievements that earned Edinburgh neuroscientist, Seth Grant a prestigious £10,000 global award. Follow the field leader here: FENS Awards.

No. 63: Fighting spirits.

How a young US Marine survived after a grenade detonated beneath his head is partly due to OT, Erik Johnson, an Army vet and burns victim himself, who, in turn, was inspired by an insightful OT. Follow the chain from here: Kyle Carpenter recovery to here: Erik unleashed.

No. 62: Covid-19 crusaders.

The charity formed to further the work of OT’s English founder is funding 3 new projects to bolster OT provision during the Covid-19 pandemic, including Southampton University’s national virtual support café for newly-qualified OTs. Award winners here: Funding awards to support the development of OT

No 61: OT visionary.

An occupational therapist and her sister, both with a genetic eye disorder, are the faces of an Australian campaign to raise awareness of pioneering research to prevent blindness. Their vision of the future here: Pioneering research gives hope on world sight day.

No. 60:


   I believe our profession could reach its potential to enable people in all walks of life, across the globe, to achieve health through occupation. 

Ann Allart Wilcock (1940-2019)


From a smokey Hong Kong noodle house to a world congress in Canada, the life of the late Ann Allart Wilcock was inextricably interwoven with the science of occupation. Tributes to her research-enriched achievements here: RCOT - Memorials


No. 59: The brains behind the operation!

The National Brain Appeal stepped up to ensure emergency care services at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery ran as smoothly as possible as Covid-19 coursed through the UK. Your support still needed here: National Brain Appeal.

No. 58: A credit for accrediting!

It’s honourable times for the UK’s rehabilitation case managers following the birth of a new body in 2020 tasked with setting standards bars in practice and ethics for the entire profession. Meet the brainchild of BABICM, CMSUK and VRA here: Together Stronger.

No. 57: OT’s honour!

A young OT has been made a fellow of a US military caregiver foundation for her ‘self-sacrifice and self-advocacy’ after her fiancé was brain-injured while on active duty in Afghanistan. Roll out the bravery barrels here: How a veterans fiance is healing invisible wounds.

No. 56: Headway heroics!

OTs took the lead in softening the blow of a baffling break-in at a Norfolk office of Headway – the brain injury association. Crime conquering here: Headway Norwich bounces back after a burglary

No. 55: OT sleuths seeking truths!

Five fab members of the Royal College of Occupational Therapy attracted research foundation grants in 2020. Find out who and why here: RCOT Celebrates excellence at the occupational therapy awards 2020

No. 54: 


   Those of us with disabilities get into a negative mindset and think that we will never find love.   

Sex-positive disability educator, Angela Car.


Born with spina bifida and bullied as a child, Angela Car struggled even to make small talk by the time she was in her teens. Now, with “brutal honesty”, she’s calling time on taboos surrounding sex, alternative relationships and disability. Love warriors head here: (Warning: Adult content 18+)

No. 53: Champion weight-lifters!

Mountainous efforts by Lake District OTs hit the headlines after they took on the duties of other health professionals to minimize Covid-19 cross-infection and keep patients at home. Inspiring scenes here: South Lakes rapid response team rises to challenge of coronavirus and helps patients to stay home

No. 52: Fruit of the forest!

A packet of frozen blueberries, fossilized trees and laps of an old Welsh steelworks at midnight: an OT’s ingenuity in countering Covid-19 lockdown to raise cash for charity here: Countess Chester hospital occupational therapist runs astonishing 181km  Extras FYI: Heritage Fund


No. 51: Marvelously mad professor!

Trussing himself up in a neon pink arm cast for a fortnight, despite being uninjured, resulted in a real break for Professor Nico Dosenbach in his mission to develop novel neurorehabilitative treatments for children. His disarming discovery here:Neuroscientist discovers neuronal pulses in the human brain that activate after an injury

No. 50: A starter for 10!

A national blueprint for innovative, holistic rehabilitation to help patients return to an acceptable level of independence after the hospital has marked its 10th anniversary in New Zealand. Watch and learn about START (Supported Transfer Accelerated Rehabilitation Team) here: Voxy

No. 49: 


   I immediately assumed the blood-thinning drugs had caused a bleed in the brain but what we discovered was unlike anything we had seen before.   

Neurologist, Dr Arvind Chandratheva.


Experts at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN) explain to the nation the devastating effects of Covid-19 on the brain in a special BBC news report, with input from OT, Kate Kelly and brain injury charity, SameYou. More startling revelations here: UCLH - NHS

No. 48: TBI + AI = AA. Explain.

2020 Aesculap Award (AA) winner, Dr Raj Rahul has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to help monitor and predict outcomes in traumatic brain injury (TBI). Finer points of the Finnish findings here: Artificial intelligence-based algorithm for intensive care of severe traumatic brain injury and Congratulations to the winners of the AesculapAward 2020

No. 47: Simply brilliant!

Amid the chaos of Covid-19 this year, calm has often been restored by the astute response of occupational therapists such as Sarah Dove of Scotland’s NHS Forth Valley. Common sense creates staff, and patient smiles here: NHS Forth valley therapists.

No. 46: Swell new treatment!

A new treatment to dramatically reduce swelling after brain and spinal cord injuries offers hope to 75 million survivors worldwide each year, thanks to an international research team including Aston, Birmingham and Wolverhampton universities:

No. 45: #RightToRehab rules!

Making a big impact on brain injury rehabilitation through fund-raising, therapy consulting and volunteering for Headway – the brain injury association earned a top accolade for Cambridge University student, Andrea KusacVice-chancellor social impact award 2020.


No. 44: Masters of motivation!

Learning difficulties and an attack of Covid-19 called for emergency OT action when an Essex pensioner started losing the will to walk. Step this way for another inspiring story: Engineer thanks therapists for helping his 71-year-old brother to walk again after covid.

No. 43:  


   If someone else picks up my book and feels how I felt - if my book can reach one person - then that's a positive.   


When OT, Ally Parkes was diagnosed with a brain tumour, she was just 31 with a newborn, a two-year-old and a lovely hubby. Her resilience over the next 10 years resulted in a debut novel to help others. Read more here: Ally draws on the trauma of living with a brain tumour for ten years for a debut novel. And Ally Parkes -

No. 42: Ruth’s intense work-out!

OT, Ruth Tyerman’s tireless endeavours in brain injury rehabilitation, including the award-winning Working Out vocational rehabilitation programme, earned her the RCOT’s highest honour. Rounds of applause to Ruth here: RCOT Celebrates excellence at the occupational therapy awards 2020

No. 41: Top of the teachers! 

Pursuing perfection in OT pedagogic practice became a professional goal for Dr Ruth Heames early in her career, and now her diligence has earned her the second of the RCOT’s 2020 top awards. A fellow well met here: RCOT Celebrates excellence at the occupational therapy awards 2020.

No. 40: OT’s magnificent Marg!

Co-author of an OT ‘bible’ and RCOT fellow, the late Margaret (Marg) Foster (1945 to 2019) was “a backbone” to maintaining the profession’s standards. Tributes to her decades of work here: RCOT Memorials

No. 39: Ex-US president is top OT! 

The co-author of a mental health vision of the future and a former president of the American Occupational Therapy Association has been awarded its highest honour. Ginny’s journey to the top here: careers and awards. and - experts

No. 38: Fatigue defender!

Brain injury survivors have been waking up to fatigue advice thanks to Headway- the brain injury association author, OT Donna Malley who also works wonders at the world-leading Oliver Zangwill Centre. Her wise words here: Managing fatigue with Donna Malleyand her Headway guide here:Headway managing fatigue booklet

No. 37: Sleep, saviours!

Knock out advice from Help for Heroes via remote occupational therapy rescued RAF veteran Stephanie Shaw from a debilitating lockdown dilemma. Dream practice here: Help for heroes - Stefanie Shaw

No. 36: Antipodean activists

Brain injury crusaders in Australia are behind the country’s first-ever research into brain injury linked to family violence. But international help is needed now to act on their horrifying findings. Full facts here: 

Brain Injury

No 35:  The ‘Lorne’ ranger!

East Lothian OT Lorne Logan, hailed a local hero for isolating from her family to help patients during the lockdown, went on to play 2 of the world’s greatest golfers in a special Scottish Open match celebrating Covid-19 heroes. Please find out how she fared here: Two local heroes tee off golf stars Scottish open!

No 34: Fab 4!

Four members of the Royal College of Occupational Therapy scooped merit awards in 2020 for all-round excellence in their sphere of the profession. More about role leaders, Dr Theresa Baxter, Wendy Chambers, Janine Smith and Louise Watson here: RCOT Celebrates excellence

No. 33:


    This ground-breaking new programme…will put the UK at the forefront of brain injury rehabilitation on a global scale – because rehab won’t wait.   

Prof. Mike Barnes


A Lake District activity centre, backed by the neurologist, Professor Mike Barnes, is “the first of its type” in the UK enabling brain injury survivors to venture into the great unknown despite Covid-19: Lake district charity in the UK first to tackle Covid-19.  More about Prof. Barnes’ work here: Professor Michael Barnes

No 32: To Russia with love!

American special education teacher turned OT Professor Patty Coker-Bolt is taking her specialist sports therapy knowledge to Russia thanks to a 2020 WFOT research award. Bolt to it here: WFOT. More about Prof Patty here: Patricia Coker-Bolt and

No.31: Sex, revolutionary!

UNESCO award winner Tuppy Owens is turning sex taboos on their heads in the fight for sexual health and human rights for disabled people. Find the free-thinking founder of the Outsiders, Shada (Sexual Health and Disability Alliance) and the TLC-Trust here: (Warning: Adult content 18+) More here:

No. 30:

   This piece tackles the serious health mysteries around brain injury and explores the human consequences of that science in a way that is clear, nuanced, and emotionally devastating.   


Read 2020 Science in Society Journalism Award winner, Tim Requarth’s moving observations of his brother in the decade after a traumatic brain injury here: The final five per cent. More about Tim here: Science in society journalism awards

No. 29: OT80-plus power!

OT octogenarian, the British Journal of Occupational Therapy proves it’s got more punch than ever by publishing record reams of #OpenAccess research in a single year. Delve into the details here: BJOT Editor. The BJOT’s illustrious history here:

No. 28: Minding the gap!

Training her focus on the junction between two nerve cells – the synapse – and its impact on neurological disorders and neurorehabilitation won Erin Schuman a top 2020 European research prize. Erin’s sensational studies here: - laureates

No. 27: Food, glorious, food!

Nutritious nosh and the nutritional cognitive neuroscience that is feeding new rehabilitative diets are emerging everyday heroes in OT practice. Take a few bites here: Nutrition and rehabilitation and Nutrition and diet after brain injury.

No. 26: Science against the machine!

Delving into the workings of our molecular ‘pain machines’ opened new avenues for safe, targeted painkillers and earned 2 US scientists the title of 2020 laureate. Their clever collaboration here:

No 25: They’re trying to get him to communicate. He held a pen and drew a picture, which we never thought we would see him do.”

Royal recognition of remarkable rehabilitation outcomes at the UK’s state-of-the-art Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) Stanford Hall, where OT, Verity Cannell agreed on a “dual” with HRHs William and Kate….William shoots some hoops with a little help from Charles.

No. 24: Barking up the right tree!

Dr Boris Levinson’s dog, Jingles sounded a novel note of rehabilitation hope when his master spotted the positive effects he was having on child patients. Sniff out the info on the founder of animal-assisted therapy and its use in OT here: Animal-assisted therapy

No. 23: The rise of Rebecca!

Told she would never walk or talk due to birth-related brain trauma, all Rebecca ever wanted was to be “like everyone else”.  Her courageous journey to finding joy in horse riding and drama, supported by her Pets as Therapy UK pooch, Teddy and Krysalis neuro OT here: The rise of Rebecca

No. 22: 

   I’ve learned that how everyone copes and struggles through something is very different—and that it’s OK to show emotions and reach out for help.   


The loss of a dearly loved brother in a horrific crash that killed 16 Canadian hockey team players didn’t stop Mariko Boulet from graduating with a Masters in Occupational Science and using her experience to benefit others. Triumph after tragedy here: My whole life was turned upside down.

No. 21: TAR very much!

Technically assisted rehabilitation (TAR) is taking giant strides in occupational therapy practice with developments in assistive, interactive, virtual, robotic and prosthetic technologies. Cheers to the UK-RAS Network for taking the lead: UKRAS.organd Web.pdfandOT World- Tar Conference

No. 20: Ann’s astounding ascent!

Undeterred by progressive nerve damage due to polio, Ann Carnduff (1944 - 2020) not only scaled OT heights as a European ambassador but also surmounted the giant Grampians. Remembering the reign of a courageous OT queen of Scots here:

No 19: Game on!

A rehabilitation gaming system targeting cognitive and motor recovery after stroke is being trialled as part of The Human Brain Project, a 10-year European-wide collaboration to build a neuroscience, medicine and computing research base. New networks for the future here: Human brain project and partnering projects

No. 18: The media movers and shakers!

They are specialists in debunking balderdash, stripping down technical terms and spreading the OT word worldwide. Raise your voices for the profession’s megaphones, including the RCOT’s OT News, Neuro Rehab (NR) Times and the OT Magazine. Find and follow them all here: OT NewsNR TimesOT Magazine

No. 17: OT ‘telepathy’ tool!

It’s a master key in an OT’s box of tools, and it can unlock a myriad of rehabilitative marvels by aiding understanding of the lived experience of brain injury survivors, such as stoically self-reliant, Ronny. Empathy in action here: Meet Ronny - Part 1

No. 16: 


   It put many in a desperate situation where the confusion from cognitive difficulties ruled their days.   


Brain injury survivors’ charity, Brain Injury Touchpoint and brain injury blogger Michelle Munt raise a platform for brain-injured folk to share crucial Covid-19 concerns. Looking out for others here: Brain Injury touchpoint

No. 15: The allied forces!

Throwing their weight into the war against the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK’s Neurological Alliance and the Brain and Spine Foundation launched a real-time mission to protect people with neurological conditions. Their battle tactics here:UK covid forum createdand

No. 14: Honour on course!

Despite having only “one good leg” due to childhood polio, John Simpson has devoted his career to golf and, latterly, the sport’s rehabilitative benefits to armed forces veterans. As his On Course Foundation celebrates its 10th anniversary, John is rewarded with an MBE:

No. 13: Leading Northern Ireland!

OT lead, Paul Devlin and paediatric occupational therapist, Lorraine Abernethy were made members of the Order of the British Empire this year for their outstanding services in N. Ireland during Covid-19. The die-hard duo here:

No. 12: 

   If we can help one person at a time, one day at a time, and one project at a time, we can make a difference that will leave a lasting impact on them.   

Jaspal’s Voice.

A charity champ who walked 40km on artificial legs, another fab fan of the motor neurone disease Association (MNDA), and Jaspal’s Voice founder, Susan Nat Graham were all awarded British Empire Medals (BEMs) in the Queen’s 2020 Birthday Honours List this month. MNDA accolades here: MND association - fundraiser recognised in birthday honours Susan’s inspirations here: Jaspal's voice How OT assists people with MND: MND association - OT for MND

No. 11: Evidentially exceptional!

Stirling services to medical research attracted Royal recognition for neurology Professor Catherine Sudlow, director of the international resource, BioBank which is tracking health and well-being data of 500,000 voluntary participants. Sarah’s research road to an OBE and BHF health data centre new head of CMI. Break into the BioBank here:

No 10: The Empower Rangers!

Expert therapy powers united as the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown restraints sent stress levels soaring. OTs, PTs, SALTs, CMs and psychologists, armed with their sharpest coping strategies, took aim at delivering vital resources to the brain-injured community. Hitting the target here: Expert stress and anxiety advice for brain injury survivors

No. 9: The Disruptors!

A 365-day mission to wake up the world to innovative treatments for brain disorders and funding gaps in neurological research was launched this month by the European Brain Council. Entrepreneurs, experts and everyone else interested in connecting with the brain community are urged to ‘disrupt and rewire’ here: Brain innovation days

No. 8: “Pretty much everything we humans think we know about laughter is wrong.” Prof. Sophie Kerttu CBE

Her command of cognitive neuroscience, including emotional expressions such as laughter, earned stand-up comedian, Professor Sophie Kerttu Scott one of the highest of the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2020. The fun starts here: The Guardian - Science and Psychologists recognised in the 2020 Queens birthday honours list

No. 7: Multi-culture queen!

Named as one of the American Association of Occupational Therapists’ top 100 most influential people, Professor Wimberly Edwards stepped up to become a leading light for black occupational therapists globally. Her road from Harlem roots to OT icon here: More about AOTA’s multi-cultural networking groups and resources here:

No. 6: The fallen heroes.

“Generous”, “a gentleman” and “a gentle soul”, lead occupational therapist, Vivek Sharma, 58, is among the 1.1 million-plus people who have lost their lives to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. Fond tributes to the UK father-of-two here: Tributes paid to Medway health worker

No. 5: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

Undaunted by a devastating brain injury, determined Demelza Fry rallies to the aid of NHS frontline workers facing a face shield crisis as Covid-19 sweeps across the UK. Saving her saviours here: Brain injury survivor launches face shield appeal for NHS and making national headlines here:

No. 4:


    It did not matter whaelse I faced after that. I would think of how it felt to stroke that beautiful dog and I’d immediately feel better.   


How spinal-injured Carrie came back from a horrifying motorbike accident has a lot to do with dogged determination – including that of her four-legged ‘therapist’ Turkey, a trauma survivor himself. Their inspirational journey to become UK pet therapy ambassadors starts here: An inspirational journey

No. 3: Canny Annie!

The remarkable Anne Ricketts not only balances the cognitive impact of a brain injury with the isolation of living on a small English island during Covid-19, she’s also a non-stop neurorehabilitation blogger and the builder of a global safety net for other brain injury survivors. Follow a true master in the art of brain injury survival here:  Diaries of a brain injury survivor

No 2: Summit up!

Trust the UK’s Acquired Brain Injury Forum to ring the changes globally since Covid-19 altered all our lives forever. Support UKABIF’s November ‘Time for Change Summit’ to transform neurorehabilitation and the lived experience of acquired brain injury here:

No. 1: You can take the Scott out of OT….!  


   I will always be incredibly proud of our profession. It has been a privilege to have played a part in raising the profile of occupational therapy so that more people understand its value ...   


After almost 15 years as a driving force behind the UK’s Royal College of Occupational Therapy, Chief Executive Julia Scott (who helped put the R in the acronym) is stepping down – but stepping into other supporting roles! More about her unstinting service to the profession here: RCOT


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