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Research Article
Issue Date: November 01, 2014
Published Online: November 10, 2014
Updated: January 01, 2019
Jane Case-Smith: Servant–Leader and Scholar
Author Affiliations
  • Andrew C. Persch, PhD, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor, Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The Ohio State University, 453 West 10th Avenue, 406 Atwell Hall, Columbus, OH 43210; andrew.persch@osumc.edu
  • Dennis S. Cleary, OTD, MS, OTR/L, is Clinical Assistant Professor, Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Kelly Tanner, PhD, OTR/L, is Lecturer, Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Carmen DiGiovine, PhD, ATP, RET, is Clinical Associate Professor, Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Melinda Rybski, PhD, OTR/L, is Clinical Assistant Professor, Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Margaret Teaford, PhD, is Retired Clinical Associate Professor, Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Stephen J. Page, PhD, OTR/L, is Associate Professor, Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Amy Darragh, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Assistant Professor, Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus
Article Information
Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / In Memoriam
Research Article   |   November 01, 2014
Jane Case-Smith: Servant–Leader and Scholar
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November/December 2014, Vol. 68, 649-652. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.686003
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November/December 2014, Vol. 68, 649-652. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.686003
Few scholars have contributed to the profession of occupational therapy in as many ways and across as many levels as Jane Case-Smith. A master clinician at her roots, Jane personally treated thousands of children with disabilities or special health care needs over the course of her career. In reflecting on the breadth of her experience, she once commented, “I’m proud to say I worked with children for 30 years! I continue to work with children now, and it’s really just a great pleasure for me” (D. Cleary, personal communication, 2009). Jane shared this passion with her students, peers, and other therapists through her teaching, scholarship, and service. In this way, the effects of Jane’s professional efforts are, and will continue to be, multiplied many times over.
Jane Case-Smith, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Jane graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in psychology in 1975. It was during this time that Jane learned about occupational therapy from her roommate. In 1978, Jane completed a master’s degree in occupational therapy at Western Michigan University. Although she initially worked with adults, Jane quickly developed a passion for serving children and families that would fuel her career for more than three decades. A life-long learner, Jane pursued additional coursework while working in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Medical College of Georgia (now Georgia Regents University) to gain insights into the interventions that would best serve her patients. She humbly joked that she eventually realized that she had enough credits to earn another graduate degree. Jane received her EdD from the University of Georgia in 1985.
After a brief tenure at Virginia Commonwealth University, she took a position with the Division of Occupational Therapy at The Ohio State University (OSU) in 1990. Her dual appointment included a clinical role at the Nisonger Center, a University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and a teaching role in occupational therapy. At the Nisonger Center, Jane worked in early intervention, diagnostic, and pediatric specialty clinics. Within the Division of Occupational Therapy, she taught undergraduate and graduate courses, mentored countless students, published extensively, and pursued a wide variety of pediatric rehabilitation research interests. Jane was named division chair in 2005 and despite her many administrative responsibilities managed to remain active clinically throughout her 24-year tenure at OSU. She was passionate about, and a driving force behind, efforts to move the profession toward the entry-level doctoral degree.
A tireless and giving collaborator, friend, and colleague, Jane’s contributions to the field of occupational therapy are too many to count. However, we share a few of the highlights from a life spent in the service of others.
Occupational Therapy for Children
Jane may be best known for her work as the senior editor of Occupational Therapy for Children (the newly published seventh edition is titled Occupational Therapy for Children and Adolescents [Case-Smith & O’Brien, 2014 ]). This publication became the premier pediatric occupational therapy textbook in the world under Jane’s leadership. Indeed, more than 90% of all occupational therapists trained in the past two decades will have used this text in their pediatric coursework. Jane’s work on Occupational Therapy for Children provided an opportunity to collaborate with experts from around the world. The submission of each new chapter provided her an opportunity to learn about new techniques and emerging practice areas. Jane was a critical yet constructive editor, and her feedback and mentoring helped improve the writing of all of her collaborators. Always uncomfortable in the spotlight, Jane could be seen blushing at American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) conferences whenever asked to sign a copy of her book.
Pediatric Rehabilitation Research in Many Contexts
Jane was, indisputably, one of the world’s foremost experts in pediatric occupational therapy. Over the course of her career, she pursued and published research in fine motor skills development, handwriting, autism, sensory integration, cerebral palsy, pediatric constraint-induced movement therapy (PCIMT), early intervention, and many other areas. From the beginning of her scholarly career, Jane emphasized evidence-based, family-centered care in early intervention (Case-Smith, 1991, 1998). As chief of occupational therapy at the Nisonger Center, Jane was ideally positioned to develop, deploy, and test interventions for children in clinical, classroom, and community-based environments.
Given her experiences in the NICU, it makes sense that some of Jane’s earliest clinical research examined the unique needs of at-risk infants. At the time, Jane noted that feeding could be either therapeutically regulating or stressful and disorganizing (Case-Smith, 1989). Further work revealed the ability to distinguish between infants on the basis of feeding efficiency (Case-Smith, Cooper, & Scala, 1989). Jane’s pioneering research suggested a role for occupational therapy practitioners in helping prepare infants and mothers for feeding by optimizing the environment, engaging in preparatory regulating activities, and controlling the characteristics (e.g., texture, taste) of foods.
Jane’s work with children was also strongly rooted in the classroom. She was especially knowledgeable regarding the development of in-hand manipulation skills and handwriting in school-age children. The Write Start project provides a recent example (Case-Smith, Holland, & White, 2014). Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, the project evaluated the effectiveness of handwriting interventions delivered by therapist–educator teams in natural environments. The Write Start intervention includes feedback on performance, peer modeling, student self-evaluation, and small-group work. Students who received the Write Start intervention demonstrated significantly increased writing fluency and legibility compared with those who did not. Beyond these direct benefits, Write Start provides an evidence-based model of interdisciplinary collaboration. Jane was most excited about these broader implications. In Write Start, she demonstrated that teaming with educators could benefit larger student populations, a finding that suggested the potential power of occupational therapy interventions within the larger response-to-intervention model.
Community-based interventions were of special importance to Jane. She firmly believed that interventions were most powerful when embedded in natural contexts. Delivery of PCIMT in the homes of children with unilateral cerebral palsy is an excellent example. In collaboration with researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech, Jane embarked on a program of research designed to rigorously examine the efficacy of PCIMT “in natural settings using individualized activities and objects that are motivating to the child and continue to be part of the child’s daily life after treatment ends” (Case-Smith, DeLuca, Stevenson, & Ramey, 2012, p. 18). Together, this group demonstrated the efficacy of shorter duration (e.g., 3 hours) PCIMT in natural settings, a finding that supported applications for larger trials of PCIMT. At the time of her passing, Jane was co-principal investigator on two National Institutes of Health–funded, multisite, randomized controlled trials of PCIMT for children with hemiparesis. The research teams at OSU, Virginia Tech, and the University of Virginia continue this important work in honor of Jane’s valuable contributions to this science.
Special Expertise and Advocacy
Jane’s expertise in pediatric rehabilitation allowed her to contribute to many areas of practice. For example, she believed that occupational therapy practitioners were uniquely qualified to provide meaningful interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. She advocated for an increased presence of occupational therapy practitioners in the assessment and treatment of ASD. She also emphasized the importance of evidence-based practice when working with this population. She conducted intervention studies with children with autism (Case-Smith & Bryan, 1999; Case-Smith & Miller, 1999) and also helped define the role of occupational therapy in working with people with ASD (Case-Smith & Arbesman, 2008; Tomchek & Case-Smith, 2009). Jane always focused on engagement in occupations and functional outcomes when speaking and writing about intervention for children with ASD. Similarly, she worked to articulate the therapeutic benefits of occupational therapy using a sensory integration (OT–SI) approach. A strong advocate for advancing the science of OT–SI, she was especially appreciative of the work done by Parham et al. (2007)  to define fidelity of intervention in sensory integration research and was encouraged by the emergence of research using this framework (Pfeiffer, Koenig, Kinnealey, Sheppard, & Henderson, 2011; Schaaf et al., 2014).
Part of what made Jane’s career so special was her ability to touch so many fields outside of occupational therapy. In 2006, she called on OSU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering in hopes of establishing collaboration between the two sides of campus. Rob Siston, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at OSU, answered her call. Together, they created a program in which undergraduates in engineering would build assistive devices for people with disabilities. The unique part of this curriculum was Jane’s recognition of the opportunity to include occupational therapy (and later, physical therapy) graduate students in the design process. Outcomes were improved by immersing the occupational therapy students in the course. The success of the program became evident when the students swept the Engineering Design Competition and won first place in the Honda Student Design Competition. To this day, this is the only program in the United States that provides course credit to occupational therapy and physical therapy students for their role in an engineering design program.
Awards and Honors
Jane was the recipient of multiple awards for her service and research. Most recently, through a process of acclamation, members of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation’s Academy of Research elected Jane to this prestigious body. She was informed of this honor two days before she died and was thrilled. The OSU Occupational Therapy faculty thanks those scholars who worked to bestow this honor. It was the last of the many honors she received in recognition of her service to her students, to OSU, and to the profession of occupational therapy. She received the AOTA Cordelia Myers Writer’s Award in 1989 and became fellow of AOTA in 1997. Jane received the A. Jean Ayres Research Award from AOTA in 2001 and was honored with the Virginia Scardina Lectureship Award by the Ohio Occupational Therapy Association in 2004. In 2009, she received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the College of Health and Human Services at Western Michigan University. Jane was also honored to give keynote lectures throughout the United States and abroad. For her service to OSU, she received the President and Provost’s Award for Distinguished Faculty Service in 2012. Jane was awarded more than $5 million in extramural funding during her career. Her highest honor was to spend her life in the service of others.
Legacy
Jane’s legacy as a scholar, colleague, editor, advocate, mentor, and clinician is cemented in the pages of our field’s most prestigious journals and texts, the practice patterns of the thousands of students whom she mentored, and the countless students and professionals who read her work and heard her speak. To those of us who knew her best, she is respected for all of these attributes, but she was beloved as a genuine, approachable, hardworking, and knowledgeable colleague and friend whose laugh filled our hallway. Jane’s light was always on until late at night, and her office door was always open, both figuratively and literally. She was a true servant–leader whose focus was promoting the needs and performance of others, whether that be of her students, her faculty, colleagues, or the children and families whose lives her work ultimately affected and will continue to influence. Jane accomplished these achievements through communication; collaboration; integrity; trust; and focused, diligent effort.
References
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Case-Smith, J. (1991). Occupational and physical therapists as case managers in early intervention. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 11, 53–70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/J006v11n01_04 [Article]
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Jane Case-Smith, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA