Gillian A. Rai, D.O.T., M.Ed., OTR/L

Assistant Professor
(540) 224-4731

Dr. Rai, a South African native received her bachelor degree in Occupational Therapy with a major in Psychology from the University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.  She decided to visit the USA in 1997, as a result of her curious nature and a passion for learning. Through her travels, she decided to make VA her home, although still a South African at heart.

While working as an Occupational Therapist in the school systems, Dr Rai had a strong desire to understand the academic demands placed on children in the elementary school setting as well as the integration of effective practices in special education, including the provision of technology solutions into the curriculum & instruction to meet the needs of students with mild to severe disabilities, and decided to pursue a masters degree in education.  She earned her Masters degree in Special Education (with a Learning Disabilities concentration) from Virginia Polytechnic University in 2004, where she also worked as full time faculty in a special education research program, teaching and providing consultations to schools in SW Virginia. As an avid scholar and thirst for knowledge, Dr Rai earned her doctoral degree in OT (Pediatrics Specialization) at Temple University, Philadelphia. In addition, she is also SIPT (Sensory Integration and Praxis Testing) certified with more than 18 years of combined clinical and teaching experience here and abroad in the field of Pediatric Occupational Therapy, serving children and families in private practice, school systems, early intervention, and many other settings. Outside of the classroom, she continues to enjoy working clinically with children as well as creating, planning, facilitating and providing workshops, trainings and presentations at state and national conferences. In keeping with her passion for learning, she joined the Jefferson College of Health Sciences in 2009 as Assistant Professor, teaching Pediatrics in both the OTA and OT programs. Dr Rai is currently research advisor and research mentor to the Masters in Occupational Therapy students.

Recently Completed Research Support
Pfeiffer, B., Murray, T., Rai, G., & Bruisilovskiy, E. (2013). Effectiveness of the size matters handwriting program. 

Examples of mentored student research projects
Edison, K. & Martin, A. (2010). Student and faculty perceptions of universal design principles of instruction: A study at Jefferson College of health sciences.

Rutherford, M. (2010). Parent perceptions of the effectiveness of hippo therapy in children with varying disabilities.

Pevarski, C. & Garcia, W. (2010). Parent perceptions of the most effective sensory Integration techniques used in the home to improve function in daily occupations of children with autism.

Griffin, S. & Parstch. (2011). What is the level of understanding of the purpose of occupational therapy by general education teachers in southwest Virginia in the public elementary school system?

Clark, K. & Gibson, C. (2011) Occupational therapists’ awareness of mainstream portable electronic devices and their associated applications as an aid to increasing independence in areas of occupation.

Hammock, A., Lipscomb, E. & Murphy, L. (2012).  Parents perceptions of communication methods used by occupational therapy practitioners.

Caldwell, A. & Edwards, B. (2012). Elementary school-based occupational therapy in west central Virginia: Methods and effectiveness of communication with caregivers.

Rahall, Sean (2013). Teacher knowledge of traditional and non-traditional occupational therapy practice areas.

Liuzzo, E. & Nebeling, J. (2013). Primary Caregivers perceptions of using mobile applications as a therapeutic tool with their children with autism spectrum disorders.

Ellis, T.  (2014). Knowledge of Other Professional’s Roles as a Core Competency in Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice: Faculty’s Knowledge of Occupational Therapy

Ferris, R. & Kelly, C. (2014). Exploring patient satisfaction with occupational therapy services as a skilled nursing facility

Bennet, M., Parrott, H., Toney, C. & Gaskell, D. (2014). The relevance of occupational therapy intervention on comfort level of ADLs and IADLS among total hip replacement patients.

Fisher, A., Pergament, C., Toney, M. (2014). Examining occupational performance and qualify of life in OEF/OIF veteran.

Ganjikia, S., Gansor, S. & Thomas, L. (2014). The current status of occupational therapy professionals in adressing the occupation of sleep.

Brown, D., Hammond, S. & Lunsford, R. (2014). Primary preventative education and implementation of aging in place techniques for the baby boomer population in the Roanoke area.

Research Agenda and Interests

  • Sensory integration and sensory processing across the lifespan (children and adults with autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD), Learning Disabilities (LD), and its impact on performance and participation with activities of daily living skills.
  • Community-based (natural environments interventions) for children with autism and sensory processing difficulties.
  • Provision of OT services to children and families in natural settings
  • The environment from an ecological perspective and its impact on occupational performance and participation in activities of daily living across the lifespan
  • Evidenced-Based practice
  • Handwriting interventions for elementary aged children.
  • Implementing and researching yoga programs for young children. Specifically yoga and sensory processing and the benefits/outcomes.
  • Community Outreach
  • Developing early childhood projects, teacher training nationally and internationally (particularly South Africa)

Courses Instructed
Occupational Therapy Assistant Program
Therapeutic Media                                                                
Professional Seminar                                                             
Pediatric Techniques in Occupational Therapy
Foundations of Occupational Therapy
Assistive Technology                                                             

Graduate Courses –Masters of Occupational Therapy program
Occupations across the lifespan (Pediatrics)             
Clinical Reasoning                                                                
Research Project Design                                                       
Research Project Implementation                                          

B.Occ. Th (Hons), University of Durban Westville, South Africa
M.Ed., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
DOT, Temple University