TWU graduate student trains next generation of occupational therapists

Lou Ann Hintz headshot

Lou Ann Hintz, Texas Woman’s PhD in occupational therapy student and recipient of a Virginia Chandler Dykes Scholarship, first heard the words “occupational therapy” when she was just 9 years old. Her sister, who had been hospitalized at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas for idiopathic scoliosis, spoke those words to her when describing her lengthy hospital stay. She shared that occupational therapy was the best thing about being in the hospital because it distracted her and made her feel better about herself.  Hintz remembers her sister showing her a leather tooled keyring, wallet and copper-tooled project, which she had made during her occupational therapy time.

“From that day forward, I knew I wanted to do something like that,” said Hintz. “I wanted to have a job where I could help others by making them feel better despite having medical conditions and being separated from their families.”

Hintz has been named a Virginia Chandler Dykes Scholarship recipient from the College of Health Sciences and will be honored on February 20 at the TWU Dallas Leadership Luncheon, presented by Bank of Texas, Texas Woman’s University and the Texas Woman’s University Foundation, at The Belo Mansion and Pavilion. 

An assistant clinical professor for Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Lubbock, Hintz is currently in the dissertation phase of her PhD studies with a 3.8 GPA and plans to graduate in either May or December. Her dissertation is a qualitative phenomenological study on teachers’ experiences with occupational therapy and multi-tiered systems support, also known as response to intervention.

“Multi-tiered systems support was first introduced to me at a 2004 workshop by Jean Polichino, an inspirational occupational therapist who focused on providing support to students early instead of the traditional ‘wait until they fail’ method,” added Hintz. “Seeing members of my family struggle to meet standards due to learning disabilities and other health impairments along with witnessing the damage that school failure does to a child’s sense of self-worth fueled my passion to pursue this line of research.”

Traditionally, occupational therapists have provided services to students in special education only and typically in a one-on-one setting. Multi-tiered systems support offers a framework to provide solutions for many students who may be at risk for failure in public schools. Federal legislation supports this and allows school-based occupational therapists to impact many more students.

“Through this framework, occupational therapists can support and empower teachers in whole classrooms and small groups with evidence-based interventions to promote success and wellness for all students,” added Hintz.

Hintz began her first job in occupational therapy at Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital in Gonzales, Texas, where she gained a strong understanding of fundamental occupation-based evaluation and foundational treatment modalities. She worked for multiple years in a skilled nursing unit and in rural home health as well as over a decade in school-based practice, including Plano ISD, where she served as occupational therapy team lead.

“While working in Plano ISD, I realized my passion and purpose was with growing and supporting the next generation of occupational therapists,” added Hintz.

Hintz, who received her bachelor’s in occupational therapy and her master’s in occupational therapy administration from TWU, had the opportunity to serve as adjunct faculty at TWU in the spring semester of 2016. She taught clinical reasoning to master’s occupational therapy students and immediately fell in love with teaching and research. Her goal is to grow the next generation of occupational therapy students. She feels passionately about helping students understand how occupation-based practice can enhance the quality of life for patients and is enthusiastic about transforming students into therapists.

“Lou Ann has been a steadfast and dedicated PhD student since she began her studies,” said Tina Fletcher, EdD, MFA, OTR, associate professor of occupational therapy at the TWU T. Boone Pickens Institute of Health Sciences - Dallas Center. “By continuing her search for the active ingredients that build quality relationships between therapists, teachers, families and, most importantly, the children, she represents the voices of school therapists and children enrolled in special education services. Lou Ann is a reflective and considerate therapist, and her natural tendencies toward systematic, independent and flexible thinking will mark her trajectory as a researcher, teacher, leader and advocate.”

Hintz is a member of the Texas Occupational Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association, where she has represented TWU on a national level. Her dialogue on the importance of multi-tiered levels of systems of support schools was so popular among colleagues at a conference, the American Occupational Therapy Association moved her to a larger space, which was immediately filled.

“This is Lou Ann’s niche,” added Fletcher. “She speaks for others who cannot. And she will do it well.”

Hintz lives in Lubbock. She has two sons in the DFW area who work in the technology and engineering industry.

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Page last updated 8:31 AM, February 4, 2020