Keiser University Occupational Therapy Graduate Helps COVID-19 Patients Get Back to Everyday Life

Keiser University medical degree graduates are sometimes asked to put themselves at risk in order to help COVID-19 patients. A recent occupational therapy masters graduate is one example of the many unsung heroes helping people during these difficult times.

Keiser University graduate Silvia Lobaina, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist who works directly with COVID-19 patients every day. One of the thousands of frontline caregivers working tirelessly to support COVID-19 patents throughout the United States, the work of occupational therapists often goes unnoticed.

“I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and what I love,” said Lobaina.

This Keiser graduate is one type of COVID-19 frontline worker that most people don’t readily think of. Yet every day, she suits up in personal protective equipment and works with COVID-19 positive patients in a skilled nursing facility. Her patients were initially treated and quarantined in a hospital and once stabilized, released to a skilled nursing facility because of weakened muscles and lack of mobility.

“These people need help. These patients need to be moved,” said Lobaina. “I try my best to get them as independent as possible.”

Many of her patients are left weak from the virus. Most of them lost the ability to brush their teeth or sit up in bed. That’s where Lobaina steps in. She carries therapeutic exercise equipment into patient rooms and works one-on-one for an hour each day. She usually sees five patients a day. She works with them on strengthening their muscles so they can return to performing basic, daily activities.

Lobaina learned the purpose behind the exercises after enrolling at Keiser University’s Miami campus where she earned an Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant. The university’s one-class-at-a-time and one-class-per-month schedule allowed her to continue to work as a rehab technician at an outpatient orthopedic center while obtaining her degree. After graduating she continued her education and earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Science.

Working as a certified occupational therapist, Lobaina gained employment in travel therapy, which allowed her to experience different units in hospitals and facilities on the West Coast of the country. After six years, Lobaina realized she wanted to do more for her patients. She chose to return to Keiser University, for the third time, to complete a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the school’s Fort Lauderdale Campus. Lobaina said because of the university’s flexible schedule, she was able to continue working and flying back and forth across the country to attend graduate school on Fridays and Saturdays. She said she also found the tuition at Keiser University much cheaper than graduate schools near her. Lobaina earned a master’s in December 2019. “I’m very proud of what I have accomplished.”

The work has been defined by the American Occupational Therapy Association and the Department of Homeland Security as essential. Understandably so, some occupational therapists are hesitant to work with COVID-19 patients and survivors. Lobaina gets emotional when she thinks about her patients who didn’t receive occupational therapy because they were quarantined. “This is someone’s dad! This is someone’s grandfather! I think about them as if they were my parents,” said Lobaina.

For Lobaina, it’s personal. She shares a connection with her patients. She spent a lot of time in a skilled nursing facility, as a child, accompanying her grandfather to therapy sessions after he suffered a stroke. One of her recent fulfilling moments with a COVID-19 patient occurred with a 64-year-old man who could not stand out of bed. After a week of working with him, he was able to walk enough to take a shower for the first time in months. “This is why I do what I do,” she said.

For more information about Keiser University’s academic programs in occupational therapy, visit:

About Keiser University
Keiser University is a private, not-for-profit university, serving nearly 20,000 students and employing 3,800 faculty and staff members. Co-founded in 1977 by Chancellor Arthur Keiser, Ph.D., and Evelyn Keiser, the university currently offers more than 100 degrees at 21 Florida campuses, as well as online and at two international sites.
Keiser University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges as a level VI institution to award certificates and degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctoral levels. For additional information regarding Keiser University, visit

Photo Caption: Keiser University occupational therapy graduate, Silvia Lobaina, suited up in personal protective equipment: a disposable bodysuit with a cinched hood, gloves, mask and a face shield.

Contact Info:
Name: Kelli Lane
Email: Send Email
Organization: Keiser University
Address: 1500 NW 49th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
Phone: (954) 235-0331

Release ID: 88973010