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Graduation season: WSSU’s OT program helps administrators avoid handshake hazards

WSSU Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson (left) will be shaking a lot of hands during commencement. (2018 file photo)

During Winston-Salem State University’s (WSSU) Commencement Ceremony on May 10, Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson will be shaking the hands of more than 1,000 graduates.

By the end of the day, he may be finding himself with pain and stiffness.

Faculty and students in WSSU’s Department of Occupational Therapy have come to the rescue. Recently, they presented Robinson, along with Provost Anthony Graham, and academic deans Peggy Valentine and Darryl Scriven – they’ll also be shaking a lot of hands on stage – with a kit that includes hand grip tools, an ice or heat pack, and tips on how to survive handshaking during graduation. 

Danielle Rainville, a student in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program (MSOT) from Durham, said she prepared the brochure not only to protect the health of administrators at WSSU but to raise awareness of the issue.

Danielle Rainville

“A repetitive strain to the tendons, ligaments, muscles and nerves of the hand can be extremely painful and may take a long time to heal. Sharing this information with our university leaders may help to protect their health during an exceptionally busy time of year,” Rainville said.

The brochure was adapted with permission from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), which launched its national "Grip and Grin" awareness campaign in 2006.

Tips include:

  • Take rest breaks.
  • Check your posture and the placement of your hands and arms during handshaking.
  • Strengthen the hand prior to the ceremony.

It’s not just university presidents and chancellors who need to be careful, Rainville said. Repetitive strain injuries also affect politicians, manual laborers, gamers and those who use smart phones repetitively.

More tips are available on Rainville's website. 

WSSU offers the only master’s-level occupational therapy program in the Piedmont Triad. 

MORE: OT graduates again receive 100% certification pass rate

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.

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