Alumni Profile: Susan Hannah

By Wendy Campbell:

Susan Hannah

I’m so pleased to be in a position to tell stories about therapists – both physical and occupational – all of whom have played a part in changing the world in ways that may be small but are important to all of us. These thoughts are swirling as I’m beginning to write about Susan Hannah.

Rebecca Solnit (she gave us the term mansplaining) has a useful way of packaging social and cultural forms and shares with Margaret Mead the notion that individuals can change the world – think of Greta Thunberg. In her latest book Whose Story is This? she appraises who gets to shape the narrative of our times and how emerging voices are beginning to change that narrative… now back to Susan.

Graduating from University of Toronto with a BScOT in 1988 and an MEd from OISE in 2008, Sue’s career has been marked by sharing her work with colleagues through conferences, publications and teaching students. She served as Student Placement Lead for OT and PT students across 12 sites of Altum Health and has received a number of awards for her outstanding contribution to Occupational Therapy education at the University Health Network and the University of Toronto. She was appointed to the faculty of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in 2019.

We met in the early nineties when she joined the Hand Program at the Toronto Western Hospital, a source of fascination for me. I was impressed by the easy collaboration of OT’s and PT’s in the specialized treatment of patients following devastating upper limb injuries. Working in psychiatry at the time, I was also struck by the awareness and attention paid to the psychosocial aspects presented by each individual following complex reconstructive surgeries. Sue developed her clinical expertise with hands – assessing, case managing and teaching – at the Toronto Western from 1992 to 2011, qualified as a Certified Hand Therapist and currently serves as vice president of the Canadian Society of Hand Therapists.

In 1994 Sue’s relation to the wider world began when she left work in Canada to travel extensively through Southeast Asia, India, Nepal, China and New Zealand.  As her children grew older, she began to renew this interest, volunteering at a community based program in Haiti teaching rehabilitation therapists. She joined a group of therapists in 2018 with a WFOT program at Ukrainian Catholic University; training the first OT’s in Ukraine.

I can’t resist including this piece of Rodin’s which reflects in an art form the contribution occupational therapists and Sue Hannah in particular make to the world of rehabilitation.