Wearing goggles to hinder her vision and leg weights to impair her movement, Crystal Rodgers quickly learned what people go through after suffering right-side strokes.
"We're going to help those people, and we are getting a feel for what they are going through," Beth Nesper of Perrysburg, a second-year physical therapist assistant student at Owens Community College, said during a Care Fair for Health 2010 last week at the college.
Ms. Rodgers, a South Toledo resident who is a first-year physical therapist assistant student at Owens, discovered how the simulated impairment affected her balance as she walked and then reached forward, with Miss Nesper behind her to make sure she didn't fall.
Emily Bitter of Woodville, a junior at Penta Career Center, where she is studying exercise science, said the Care Fair was a "very beneficial event. You learn about the programs at Owens and what jobs are out there." She wants to pursue a career in physical or occupational therapy.
Graduates of Owens' School of Health Sciences and the School of Nursing - which presented the Care Fair - have taken jobs as dental hygienists, dietetic technicians, chefs, hotel and restaurant managers, occupational therapy assistants, nurses, health information technicians, and radiographers and ultrasound technologists.
Attendees were from Four County Career Center, Onsted (Mich.) High School, Penta Career Center, Port Clinton High School, Sentinel Career Center, Scott High School, Vanguard Career Center, Whitmer High School, Woodward High School, Polly Fox Academy, Monroe High School, Leipsic High School, Ottawa-Glandorf High School, Bowsher High School, Summit Academy Schools, Toledo Christian Schools, Treca Digital Academy, Summerfield High School, Life Skills Academy, and Horizon Science Academy.
Display boards shouted warnings to students: Oral piercings can cause nerve damage. Sugar and acid in soda pop can damage teeth. Cell phone use while driving is dangerous.
Jo Ann Valvo of South Toledo, a three-time cancer survivor, spoke about the Victory Center in Toledo, which provides free support and services to people with cancer. She and her husband, Phil, volunteered at the fair to raise awareness about the center, she said.
"When I was first diagnosed with cancer, it was overwhelming. It was in 1981, and there was no support group," said Mrs. Valvo, who encourages cancer patients to contact the Victory Center to schedule short-term counseling, sign up for exercise classes, or to find out about support groups.
At a nearby booth, Karen Eggenschwiler, diabetes educator with St. Luke's Hospital, presented infor-mation on healthy eating, recommending purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables and spending time making healthful meals and snacks, possibly freezing some in to-go containers so nutritious food is an easy-to grab alternative to fast-food.
"It's all about teaching healthy alternatives," said Mrs. Eggenschwiler of Sylvania. "It's about balance and incorporating healthy food into meal planning. It's about making small changes, it's about portion control, and it's about focusing on the positive steps people do take."
Adaptive devices invented by Owens students as part of studies in the occupational therapy assistant program were on display as well.
Cathleen Kern made a Hook-N-Scoop that assists people who have limited range of motion. She and other Owens students had demonstrated their inventions at a recent Ohio Occupational Therapy Association conference in Cleveland.
A secretary for a roofing company, Mrs. Kern, 44, of Northwood, will graduate from Owens in May. "I am changing careers. I want to help people. My goal is to help the elderly," she said.
Nicole Grzymkowski of Maumee invented a sleeve that could be worn by a child with sensory deficit. Tactile objects on the sleeve could "deter inappropriate behavior," she explained.
Her career goal is to work with children in a school or rehabilitation facility.
Cindi Bush of Genoa, who works for Mobile Meals of Toledo and has attended the event in other years, said, "The Care Fair is a great opportunity for students."