Occupational therapy faculty member brings sabbatical research to CDS, Unified Clinics

Miller demonstrates lesson.

Berit G. Miller, master faculty specialist-professional specialist of occupational therapy, was granted sabbatical during the fall 2015 academic semester to engage in research regarding the Beckman Oral Motor Intervention techniques.

Since returning this semester, Miller has brought these techniques into her classroom and to the Adults Doing Life Skills teaching clinic at the Center for Disability Services at WMU. Students observe and utilize lessons demonstrated by Miller with consumers at CDS who have difficulty with oral secretions and feeding issues.

The Beckman oral motor interventions focus on individuals gaining strength and range of motion in the oral structures of the lips, cheeks, tongue, and jaw in order to gain ability to chew, manipulate food in the mouth and formulate a swallow. It is particularly helpful for individuals who cannot follow directions, including infants, and individuals with developmental disabilities.

Eight students in occupational therapy are assigned to CDS each semester at the Adults Doing Life Skills clinic. Each student is assigned consumers to work with during the semester. Student clinicians focus on areas such as range of motion; functional skills such as grooming, feeding, leisure activities, cognitive activities, socialization, vocational activities; functional balance in standing and sitting; and strength and endurance. It is important for the students to learn about the Beckman oral motor skills in order to apply them with clients they may have in the future.