Faculty of Medicine

Seeing Double: Twins Combine Passion for Rehabilitation and Dance

Oct 26, 2016

Twin sisters Lindsey and Alison Schwartz share a combined love of dance and travel. They will have a chance to combine the two when they travel to the Immortelle Centre for Special Education in Trinidad to provide rehabilitation services and dance classes to students with special needs. Lindsey, a physical therapy (PT) student, and Alison, an occupational therapy (OT) student, are participating in an inter-professional clinical placement that will allow the sisters to work side by side, helping the patients enhance their coordination and physical function. Hosted by the University of Toronto’s International Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation (ICDR), this internship provides physical and occupational therapy students with a unique opportunity to gain clinical experience, while expanding their understanding of disability and rehabilitation within a global context. Writer Alyson Musial sat down with Lindsey and Alison to discuss their upcoming journey.

Lindsey and Alison Schwartz in Runyon Canyon, Los AngelesLindsey and Alison Schwartz in Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles

What inspired your interests in rehabilitation?

L: We both grew up as competitive dancers, and visited physical therapists throughout our dance careers. Our mom is an occupational therapist, so rehabilitation was always a topic discussed in our home. In high school and university, we volunteered at the Hospital for Sick Children. We worked on different units, sparking our individual interests. When we both got accepted at University of Toronto, we were so happy and knew it was the right choice.

A: Studying rehabilitation in parallel with Lindsey is really helpful. As we progress in our programs, we discuss what we are learning, which lets us think with a more interdisciplinary mind. When faced with an OT challenge, I often find myself analyzing from both a PT and OT perspective. I think, “How would Lindsey approach this, and how can I use that different analysis to enhance my OT approach”.


What drew you to the ICDR-Trinidad internship?

A: I was attracted to the internship because the Immortelle Centre for Special Education has a long affiliation with University of Toronto, spanning over 15 years. ICDR-Trinidad is a team of faculty, clinicians and students at U of T, and they helped us speak with students who went in years past; everyone had such positive things to say, we knew we needed to pursue this opportunity. It also allows PTs and OTs to work together, which doesn’t always happen in clinical internships. 

L: Ali and I both have an interest in working with children when we graduate, so it seemed like a great fit. Also, international placements aren’t as common for PTs, so I jumped at the chance to broaden my horizons. This placement offers a lot of independent and collaborative work, which will allow us to build our critical thinking and planning skills, as well as our clinical confidence.


Tell us about the new dance program you will be organizing for the students.

A: We have always wanted to combine our passions for dance and rehabilitation.  Lindsey and I thought the clinical internship offered by ICDR-Trinidad would be a great chance to develop a program that lets children experience the therapeutic aspects of dance. We have been told that the students at Immortelle love to dance and move, and that dance is a big part of their culture.

L: I think dancing with the students will also help us build a trusting relationship with them. The program will take place during their school day, and our goal is to plan a performance for their Christmas show, giving the students something to progress towards. We want them to experience the joy of dance.

A: In the future, Lindsey and I would like to create a rehabilitation-focused dance program for kids with special needs, so this opportunity is a perfect start. We can’t wait! 

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