Aimee Copeland Speaks at OT Conference

Occupational therapy students heard from Aimee Copeland at a special lecture at Brenau’s East Campus on Friday, Sept. 18.

Copeland, a flesh-eating bacteria infection survivor who lost a leg, a foot and both hands in 2012, was the featured speaker at the Georgia Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference. Before delivering her keynote address, she shared her own OT experiences – as both patient and service provider – at a students-only assembly.

Recalling her own trials learning to do what were once simple tasks like using a cell phone or combing her hair, Copeland encouraged students to “think outside the box” when it comes to rehabilitative services.

“Everybody’s in a completely different situation and you have to learn how to adapt to what they want to do,” she said. “It’s all about creativity.”

Through the help of prostheses, Copeland is now able to cook, type, and even participate in some of her favorite outdoor activities. In the final year of a Master’s of Social Work program at Valdosta State University, Copeland is currently interning at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta – the same facility she began her occupational therapy services three years earlier.

While technology is rapidly changing the OT field and how patients rehabilitate, Copeland advised students to avoid generalizations and always view patients as individual cases. Keeping them optimistic, she said, is crucial.

“Our expectations essentially create our reality,” she said, “so I believe keeping that hope alive is incredibly important.”