Meet an Occupational Therapist: Erin Damren

Erin Damren

April is Occupational Therapy (OT) Month, a time to celebrate the occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and students who work to improve the lives of their clients and families. Want to meet an outstanding OT at APD? We asked Erin Damren, OTD, OTR/L, a few questions.

Q. How did you become interested in occupational therapy?

A. My internship was at a dolphin/human therapy facility in Key Largo, Florida with a multi-disciplinary team of PT, OT, speech, special education, and psychology professionals. The program provided therapy services to kids with multiple medical complexities — from seizure disorders to autism — and essentially used dolphins as the “reward” for children to engage in therapy. For three months, I was exposed to the therapy world with families and children from Europe with significantly complex diagnoses. 

Q. How long have you worked at APD?

A. Five years.

Q. Do you have a specialty?

A. Acute care is generally my specialty area. 

Q. What do you like about working with patients?

A. Getting them doing things they never thought they would be able to do again.

Q. Share an OT success story.

A. My favorite story is from my time out in the Pacific Northwest. I was working with a Hispanic patient who only spoke Spanish and we had an interpreter with us. She had a knee replacement but previously had a joint replaced in Mexico. The interpreter was translating for me, and she was telling me the patient had not been able to actually sit on a toilet in the five years since the other joint replacement. She had been lifting the seat and leaning into it to hover over the toilet. I told her there was no way we were doing that now with a new knee and we were able to safely and comfortably transfer on and off the toilet. At the end, on the way back to the bed, the patient was crying. I kept asking the translator if she was in pain, and the translator said, “No, she’s just so happy she sat on the toilet again.” Sometimes we take such simple things in life for granted.

Related article: How Can Occupational Therapy Help Me