Oct 012013

Each day in North Carolina, accidental falls account for 531 emergency room visits, 69 hospitalizations and two to three deaths. As you may imagine, nearly 90 percent of these falls involve the elderly. Causes include taking more than four prescriptions and accompanying side effects, physical deconditioning, poor balance, dehydration and failure to properly adjust someone’s home to the changing needs that come with age.

But, for Dr. Jane Painter-Patton, professor of occupational therapy who leads ECU’s Fall Risk Assessment Clinic, there is a seemingly counterintuitive cause that she pays particular attention to. According to Painter-Patton, seniors who have anxiety about the possibility of a fall are actually more likely to experience one.

It is a vicious cycle.

“When people are more afraid of falling, they are more sedentary,” says Painter-Patton. “But we know that weakens their muscles and makes falls much more likely when they do get up to walk around. We try to address that with our patients and make sure that they know that the best way to prevent falls is actually safely increasing activity.”

Questions about anxiety and depression are part of the screening process at the clinic, which has been operating on ECU’s campus for more than five years. Painter-Patton and her team, which includes a geriatrician, geriatric pharmacist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, social worker, and nurses send patients home with a set of recommendations to improve both their mental and physical health. But, she says, old habits die hard.

“You’ve got someone who is 80-years-old and has never really exercised; it’s hard to get them to start,” she said. “But we start with simple range of motion activities (like Tai Chi) to get them moving, which we know improves their mood.”

So, while accidental falls remain a concern for the elderly, ECU is helping seniors realize that a proactive approach is the surest way to reduce risks. 

Other fall prevention strategies used by ECU’s occupational therapy department include incorporating Matter of Balance, an evidence-based fear of falling education program; the American Arthritis Tai Chi program and Free for Falls educational program for those with multiple sclerosis; and volunteer opportunities for ECU occupational and physical therapy students to assist with Eastern N.C. Falls Prevention Coalition activities. For example, ECU students helped screen almost 300 older adults for their risk of falls at the annual Falls Prevention Exposition held at the Greenville Convention Center during National Falls Prevention Week.

Jul 262013

Amini03Dr. Debbie Amini, assistant professor and certified hand therapist, recently contributed to an article, “Summer Parties Made Easy” in the August/September issue of Living with Arthritis.   

From the article:  Setting up, grilling, time on your feet—it’s enough to make you shy away from hosting a cookout altogether. But it doesn’t have to be so exhausting! We asked certified hand therapist Debbie Amini, EdD, OTR/L,CHT, from the department of occupational therapy at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, for tips to help your party go smoothly. Here’s how to sidestep joint pain and fatigue while enjoying everything a barbecue has to offer—food, friends and fun!  Read the full article is HERE.

Jul 152013
Pat Frede achievement July 2013

Front row: Petty Officer Palaganas, Chief Avila, Senior Chief Fortier, Senior Chief Frede, Master Chief Davis, and Petty Officer DeStefano Back Row: Petty Officer Lu, Chief Rankin, Petty Officer Miller, Petty Officer Curko, Senior Chief Ramnytz, Lieutenant Commander Prevatte, and Petty Officers Sanchez and Espos. Pictured with the awardees are their mentors (back row) who coached them, drilled them, and supported them through the process.

U.S. Navy veteran and reservist Pat Frede recently earned new certification while deployed to Africa. 

Frede, who leads fundraising for East Carolina University’s College of Allied Health Sciences, hopes to return to ECU in time for Homecoming, she said. She was deployed in December and has been in Africa since March while attached to the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.

Frede recently was one of six sailors with the Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command who earned the designation of Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Specialist. Each sailor had to complete a rigorous series of personnel qualification standards and demonstrate proficiency in expeditionary and combat skills by passing a written examination and a final qualification oral board.

Frede’s unit has been working to establish and enhance relations between military forces, governmental and non-governmental organizations and civilians. The group advises and assists local populations with their needs, ranging from establishing community watch programs to teaching villagers about protection of natural resources.

This is Frede’s second deployment in three years. She was in Afghanistan in 2009-2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

There, as part of her mission, Frede was embedded with the U.S. Marine Corps Female Engagement Teams who worked to develop relationships of trust and mutual respect with Afghan women, who generally aren’t allowed to have contact with men outside their families.

She also taught a course on the teams’ relevance in counterinsurgency and stability operations. She earned a presidential unit citation for the work in Helmand province.


Jul 092013

k dewald

Kelly Dewald is a graduate student currently pursuing her master’s degree in substance abuse and clinical counseling at East Carolina University.  She describes why she chose this field and what it’s like to be a pirate at ECU!

What made you choose substance abuse and clinical counseling as your career?

I have always been interested in the ways that people can experience similar events yet use different coping strategies (including maladaptive ones) to deal with those events. I find that helping people deal with roots of their issues will lead to greater success in their desired abstinence. I also had opportunity to gain experience in a research setting with alcohol use and wanted to continue my education in the same field at the graduate level. I love gaining the knowledge and experience to one day help others. I see this as a way of giving back and helping people find ways to be happy and healthy throughout their lives.

Tell me more about being a rehabilitation counseling/substance abuse counseling student at East Carolina University.

You will definitely stay busy and active while being in the program. I feel that this program not only gives you the tools of becoming a counselor but also I have learned a lot about myself and have grown as a person from the experiences and classes I have taken. I have really felt supported by my cohort as well as the faculty in my program, which I think really helped with my success here. There is definitely a “we are all in this together mentality” here which I found beneficial. The mix of experiential as well as regular classes really gives you a taste of the field.

What would you tell a prospective student about ECU?

Do not get too stressed out about the application process!  Just apply, be yourself and it will all work out. This is a wonderful program but just make sure this is the right fit for you.

Kelly received her BS in Psychology from Florida State University where she also gained three years of research experience working in an alcohol studies lab within the Department of Psychology. Her goals are to work with dual-diagnosis clients as well as the offender and involuntary commitment populations with hopes of working both in the clinical and research settings.

For more information about the MS in Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling degree, contact Dr. Shari Sias at siass@ecu.edu.


Jun 212013

Several ECU physician assistant studies students attended the American Academy of Physician Assistants 41st annual national conference held in Washington, DC,  May 25-29.  The conference marks the largest annual gathering of PAs with an attendance of over 7400 PAs and PA students.

rickerMelissa Ricker was elected president of the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) board of directors for the 2013-2014 term.

Ricker concluded her 2012-2013 term as the southeast regional director for the Student Academy of the AAPA.  Ricker was the first student from ECU and North Carolina to represent the southeast region and its 38 schools.

“Serving as southeast regional director this past year has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my recent past,” says Ricker. “I want to continue to use my creativity and passion for getting students involved, and I look forward to serving the role of president of the Student Academy.” Ricker said.

boybandSean Russell and Joe Bartholomew made quite an impact at conference when they presented their “new age” approach to promoting healthy lifestyles with their music group parody, BOYBANDemia.

Created by Russell and Bartholomew, along with a third member, Adam Rhodes, BOYBANDemia began as a class project to promote smoking cessation.  Lyrics for popular 90’s songs were re-written, vocals recorded, and a music video was produced and uploaded on YouTube.  Reaching 10,000+ views in the first month, the group went on to write, record, and produce two more parodies about obesity and CPR education, which combined reached over 85,000 views.

Considerable media attention prompted the AAPA research project manager to invite the group to present their unique project at the AAPA conference. Physician assistants and PA students from all over the nation were in attendance as Russell and Bartholomew debuted their unconventional approach to educating the general public about the most common causes of mortality in the US.

“If these music videos make you laugh, then they’ve done their job, if it makes you get healthier, then we’ve done ours,” said BOYBANDemia.

Victoria Bennis01Victoria Bennis (pictured on left) was awarded the 2013 Student Paragon Award.  The award is given to a student who has demonstrating exemplary service as a PA student.

Bennis is very active in the community, organizing multiple health promotion events at a local elementary school, and raising awareness in the school systems and community through her organization, Save A Life. She said that she is honored to be one of many to proudly represent ECU.


2013 conference-medical knowledge bowl team01Amy Petticrew, Holley Spears, and Mercedes Camprubi-Soms represented ECU in the National Medical Challenge Bowl, and they made sure to display plenty of pirate pride!

Of the 68 teams competing, the ECU PA team placed in the top 36 schools in first round, advancing them to the second round to compete live on stage in a jeopardy style elimination contest. 

Although the pirate PAs did not secure the win, they had a great time competing against their peers and celebrating the PA profession.