Community Initiatives

TFA Member Hosts Webinar with Autism Center in Yerevan

April 20, 2023

In support of Autism Acceptance Month, TFA member and Speech Language Pathologist Kristine Movsisian M.S. CCC-SLP/GC-ASD, presented a webinar on the topic of Communication & Behavior Management with My Way Rehabilitation and Educational Centre located in Yerevan, Armenia. Kristine works full-time in the elementary school setting in Los Angeles with moderate to severely challenged students. In her presentation, she discussed the strategies and techniques used to manage challenging behaviors through teaching effective functional communication skills. Kristine reflected, “I was honored to present to the group of esteemed individuals at My Way.”

Great work, Kristine! 👏👏

TFA Visits Equal Rights Equal Opportunity NGO to Discuss Disability Advocacy in Armenia

April 10, 2023

Therapists for Armenia director Armineh Babikian visited EREO NGO in Vanadzor, Armenia and got a tour of the first independent living center in Armenia. With EREO founder, Anush Aslanyan, they discussed the importance of disability advocacy for and with people with disabilities, the distinction between independent living centers and rehabilitation centers, and exchanged resources. Babikian donated two copies of the Occupational Therapy Guidebook to Inclusion to their resource library.

TFA Supports Inclusive Education in Stepanavan, Lori  in Armenia Through Adaptive Equipment Donations and Training

April 1, 2023

On March 16th, our founder and executive director, Armineh Babikian, joined Lori region’s inclusive education team consisting of 31 special educators, psychologists, speech therapists, and social workers. The Lori region has the second highest prevalence of childhood disability in Armenia. 

“It was such a pleasure to be welcomed to the Secondary School Number 2 and the regional psychopedagogical support center, which services 44 schools. Through my volunteer work over the past 6 years and Therapists for Armenia, I have crossed paths with several of these specialists already. Every regional center in Armenia has received copies of my Occupational Therapy Guidebook to Inclusion thanks to Worldvision Armenia. Now we are collaborating to help the team implement occupational therapy strategies into their inclusive education efforts, as there is no occupational therapist in the whole region. We will continue to partner with them, provide multidisciplinary support and exchange experiences.”

Thank you to all who donated to the school supply donation drive. Because of your support we were able to donate:

  • 33 chair bands 
  • 160 readers 
  • 210 colored pencils 
  • 190 regular pencils 
  • 216 pencil grips 
  • 96 mini adaptive scissors
  • 51 large adaptive scissors 
  • 50 spring scissors 
  • 4 bumpy cushions 

Together we will make this a more inclusive world! For now we are starting with the beautiful Lori Region.

Reflections from IRF Fellow & OT, Laura Iskandaryan

March 31, 2023

IRF fellow & occupational therapist Laura Iskandaryan stumbled upon her field by accident, but fell in love with the profession. In this video Laura shares her thoughts about the fellowship, her profession and her most favorite aspects of it. Watch the video here on our YouTube channel.

IRF Fellows Perform Site Assessments Across Yerevan

March 25, 2023

In March of 2023, fellows from the Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Fellowship (IRF) met for their second in-person segment after 5 months of virtual learning. A total of 26 fellows from Armenia and 4 fellows from Artsakh (who joined virtually due to the ongoing blockade), reviewed topics related to orthopedics, neurorehabilitation, wound care & burns, and acute care. 

Fellows visited rehab centers and hospitals to observe and analyze transitions of care and interdisciplinary coordination of care. They demonstrated clinical interventions for orthopedic, neurological and burn cases. In addition, the fellows selected their capstone projects for rehab development in Armenia & Artsakh- some examples include research studies of current rehab processes, development of professional associations, creating rehab in emergencies plan, and more. 

We can’t wait to see the impact our fellows will continue to have in strengthening the rehabilitation and health system in Armenia and Artsakh. 

TFA Invited to Discuss PT Curriculum Modifications at the Armenian State Institute of Physical Culture and Sport 

March 24, 2023

While in Armenia in March, TFA executive director Armineh Babikian, was invited to the Armenian State Institute of Physical Culture and Sport Physical Therapy Department roundtable discussion about how to modify and improve the physical therapy curriculum. Many great ideas and suggestions were exchanged. Things are moving in the right direction and it was wonderful to see changes led by our own IRF Fellow & PT Department Chairman Gevorg Nalbandyan.

IRF Fellows Review Cognition and Transitions of Care

March 22, 2023

We had a smooth start to our fellowship week! IRF fellows are now in month 6 of the fellowship, with our second in person intensive learning week in Armenia. 30 leaders in rehabilitation from Armenia and Artsakh spent the first day engaging with material in and discussing: transitions of Care in Post-Conflict Rehabilitation, cognitive evaluations, & complex orthopedic case studies.

We will continue the theme of care through the continuum throughout the week. We are very excited about the progress our fellows are making in demonstrating their ability to work in multidisciplinary teams, concisely and accurately communicating clinical cases, evaluating Armenia’s rehabilitation system, and brainstorming solutions to drive change!

Reflections of the IRF from Physiotherapy Fellow, Asped Kelkhacherian

March 6, 2023

IRF fellow & physiotherapist Asbed Kelkhacherian tells about the most valuable aspects of the fellowship, his job and what he enjoys most about it. The Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Fellowship (IRF) for Armenia & Artsakh is the first Armenian post-graduate education program targeting post-conflict and adult rehabilitation services. Watch the video here on our YouTube channel.

TFA Presents webinar to Vanadzor’s Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity (EREO)

February 28, 2023

In February TFA proudly hosted a webinar for Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity (EREO) NGO based in Vanadzor, Armenia. The webinar took was on the following topic: “The Role of Rehabilitation in Independent Living.” Three of our very own members, Lusine Karapetyan (PT), Maral Firkatian Wozniak (SLP), and Armineh Babikian (OT), presented on the cross-disciplinary role of rehabilitation as it relates to independence, and how occupational, physical, and speech therapy can be a resource for people with disabilities. We thank each of you for your contribution to a wonderful and invigorating event!

TFA Members Teaching Rehab for Orthopedics & Amputation in the IRF

January 4, 2023

Our Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Fellowship (IRF) is a 10 month post-professional program for rehabilitation clinicians in Armenia and Artsakh. This month two of our very own TFA members, Jen Thompson and Lusine Karapetyan, led the module on Orthopedics, Amputation, Prosthetics & Orthotics. 

Jen Thompson is an occupational therapist at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod who specializes in limb loss rehabilitation. Jen led a riveting discussion on prosthetic training and provided explanations on parts of a prosthetic, safety and well-being, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Jen is also the Advocacy and Marketing Coordinator at Therapists for Armenia and is very passionate about supporting Armenian rehab development! 

Our TFA board member and Fundraising Coordinator, Lusine Karapetyan, introduced the IRF’s Orthopedic module. Lusine is a physical therapist and professor at Concorde Career College.  She presented on topics including arthritis, fractures, and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for physical activity. 

Thank you, Jen and Lusine, for your educational support and contribution to the fellowship program! 

Launch of the Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Fellowship for Armenia & Artsakh

October 21, 2022

On October 10, 2022, Therapists for Armenia welcomed the first cohort of the IRF Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Fellowship for Armenia & Artsakh, co-developed by Therapists for Armenia and Armenian American Sports Medicine Coalition (AASMC), with support from partners National Institute of Health Armenia, Polaris EduCorp, and Health Network for Armenia (HENAR). Our fellows come from various regions of Armenia and Artsakh, representing medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech language pathology. Of the 92 applicants, 30 were selected as representatives of Armenian rehabilitation leadership to participate in the first ever post-professional interdisciplinary rehab program for post-conflict needs. This is a 10-month hybrid program that focuses on rehab from emergencies through the continuum of care to community reintegration.

After two years of planning, developing, and collaborating we finally reached the launch in Yerevan! At the Opening Ceremony, co-founders Armineh Babikian and Nick Tavoukjian discussed their vision of the sustainable program that can:

  • Build workforce capacity
  • Address post-conflict and adult care needs
  • Improve research, leadership and teaching skills, and
  • Enhance interdisciplinary coordination of care.

Special thank you to the partners and fellows. We are so excited to learn together and embark on this journey to improve the quality and access of rehabilitation services, ultimately improving quality of life for Armenians. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Another special thank you to our sponsors Armenian American Medical Society, Glendale Memorial Health Foundation, Dignity Health – Glendale Memorial Hospital (Glendale, CA).

TFA Presents at WFOT Congress in Paris, France

September 5, 2022

On Tuesday, August 30th, TFA founder and executive director, Armineh Babikian, and TFA Advocacy and Marketing Coordinator, Jennifer Thompson, presented at the World Federation of Occupational Therapists 2022 Congress in Paris, France. Over 2,500 participants from more than 100 countries joined the Congress, either virtually or in-person. The Congress provided a range of content spanning the occupational therapy profession. 

Babikian and Thompson’s presentation was titled “Innovation from America to Armenia: Providing Remote Education for Rehabilitation Clinicians in Armenia Treating Acquired Amputation During Post-Armed Conflict.” They described their post-conflict webinar series, outcomes, challenges, and future plans to support development of rehabilitation services in Armenia and Artsakh. The presentation was well received, and they have since been approached by colleagues from Ukraine interested in utilizing TFA resources. We congratulate Armineh and Jennifer on their success, and thank them for representing TFA and Armenian rehab at this large platform.

Watch their presentation here.

Supporting Mental Health of Armenian Soldiers

May 10, 2022

For the 2021 holiday season, Therapists for Armenia collaborated with Vardan Harutunyan (Yerevan-based photographer and soldier of 2020 Artsakh War) and Frontline Therapists (nonprofit organization providing free mental health services to Armenian soldiers and their families). Together we create unique calendars with images of Armenian landscapes, which were sold as a fundraiser to support rehabilitation efforts for Armenians impacted by the 2020 Artsakh War. We were able to donate $700 to Frontline Therapists to support their efforts in providing much needed mental health services. Thank you to everyone who purchased a calendar and donated towards this cause!

TFA Hosts Journal Club

February 26, 2022

Therapists for Armenia hosted a virtual Journal Club on Saturday, February 26th. The small-group Journal Club setting is geared towards exercising our ability to dive into interesting research articles and pull apart pertinent information for clinical application. This event was a big success!  We had participants from multiple specialties based in North America and Armenia. The session reviewed a research article that explored the medical aspects of COVID-19 that relate to rehabilitation. As a group, we discussed the main points of the article and collaborated on a case study about a patient suffering from long-haul COVID symptoms. The perspectives from all clinicians made for great discussions on how we all used evidence-based practice and individual practice patterns.

Post-Conflict Rehabilitation Virtual Symposium

December 28, 2021

On July 17th and 18th, 2021 Therapists for Armenia collaborated with the Armenian American Sports Medicine Coalition and the International Center of Professional Development to host the first ever Post-Conflict Rehabilitation Virtual Symposium in order to further advance the rehabilitation field in Armenia and promote international collaboration. The two-day event included international speakers from renown institutions such as the World Health Organization, Columba University, Duke University, University of Toronto, and the American Physical Therapy Association. This was the first ever multidisciplinary rehabilitation conference targeting post-war injuries. We welcomed over 430 participants from eight countries. Armenian CME were provided and presentations were available in both English and Armenian. The symposium was very well received and we look forward to further collaboration and efforts to support capacity-building for Armenia’s system and infrastructure. The recording of the presentations can be found in our Webinar section. Log in or create a free account to access.

Read more about this event in the following publications: The Armenian Mirror-Spectator; Նոյյան տապան; Օրեր; Ararat News; Արդարություն; InfoPort; Երկիր; NewInfo; Արավոտ

Lots of Socks for Emili Aregak Center

June 17, 2021

Therapists for Armenia observed World Down Syndrome Day (March 21) and World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) by designing and selling one-of-a-kind Armenian Inclusion socks. The three arrows represent the three chromosomes of Down Syndrome and a rainbow infinity symbol represents the neurodiversity of Autism Spectrum Disorder. These images were adapted to create our own symbols of inclusion and Armenian pride. The socks and accompanying brochures were made in Armenia. As a result of this campaign, $750 was donated to Emili Aregak Center in Gyumri, a developmental center for children with disabilities, and 10 pairs of socks were donated to be sold at the Aregak Bakery, the first inclusive bakery in Armenia which employs people with disabilities. Socks are still for sale in the Merchandise section, if you are interested in our unique foot-warmers!

Activity Book for Children Impacted by War

February 24, 2021

During the Artsakh war, Therapists for Armenia created and donated 8,000 activity books for displaced children. Coloring is a very soothing activity and promotes development. It can improve coordination, visual skills, and concentration. Over 30 Armenian artists from around the world submitted their creations and occupational therapists converted the images into educational activities. This resulted in over 40 unique counting, cutting, and learning pages. After printing in Yerevan, books were donated to organizations providing humanitarian relief including Kooyrigs, Children of Armenia Fund, All for Armenia, and Armenian Relief Society, who delivered the books to families in need throughout Armenia and Artsakh.

Armenian Social Stories

February 22, 2021

Inclusion and accessibility are very important to us. We translated social stories by Autism Little Learners in order to help Armenians of all needs understand complex topics such as social distancing, remote learning, grief, and coping skills. You can go to our Community Resources section to download them!

COVID-19 Art Drive

February 19, 2021

Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in New Jersey was hit hard by COVID 19. Over 50% of their residents passed away in a matter of months. We launched a project asking for artwork to help decorate the walls and cheer up the residents. Dozens are Armenian artists responded! Artwork was rotated on a monthly basis to avoid overwhelming the residents. It brought smiles to many faces!

* If you are interested in partnering with us for a community initiative, please complete our "Contact us" form.

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