Eva Ma

LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing in the Community

Olivia's Place Comments Off , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Between July and September, LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing was invited to attend numerous events in the community to provide training and information for parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals.

Lectures on Child Development at Hongkong Clinic & BIBS

Milind HK ClinicOn July 27, Milind Sonawane,  Speech-Language Therapy Lead at LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing, offered a lecture to clinicians at Beijing’s Hongkong Clinic on the topic of Child Development and Pediatric Therapy. The event served as the foundation for further cooperation between LIH Healthcare and Hongkong Clinic in Beijing to continue the establishment of early screening and intervention treatment of child developmental disorders.

Milind shared his professional knowledge and experience, and discussed the future direction of pediatric therapy with clinicians in attendance. First, he introduced the general pattern of child motor development. He also talked about early “red flags” that signal concern in a child’s motor development. Through case review, Milind explained how an interdisciplinary team ( for example, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychology) consultation) conducts a comprehensive and subsequently provides therapy services through a treatment plan. Attendees asked a lot of questions and participated in active discussion, especially on topics like interdisciplinary evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as the various therapeutic models used across countries.

This event was a tremendous success. Through exchange of experience and knowledge, LIH Olivia’s Place supports clinicians to evaluation and treat child behavior and developmental concerns.

Milind BIBSOn August 15, Mr. Sonawane lectured on child development for more than 70 teachers at Beanstalk International Bilingual School. He talked about children’s development at different stages, including the areas of gross motor, fine motor, social, cognition, and speech and language. He emphasized the significance of focusing on child development, as well as measures to take when there are “red flags” signaling concern. Teachers gained approaches to use as they identify potential problems with a student’s development.

Although each child develops at their own pace, it is possible to see what is within the range of “typical” and we look to “developmental milestones,” such as saying first words, crawling, walking, or even the age a child rides a bike the first time. When a one-year-old is not able to cruise by holding onto furniture or use a pincer grasp to pick up objects, or a three year old is lacks the basic skills to help put on clothes or climb stairs independently, these are examples of situations when early intervention may be greatly beneficial.

As an expert in speech and language, Milind also gave teachers advice on how to help children who have language delays. He explained that, when a child cannot understand your instructions or is having difficulty producing language, or cannot produce sound, it is necessary to consider the child’s ability to think, whether they have a solid language foundation in a specific language, their oral motor skills, their ability to hear and understand, and whether they need more time to answer questions. These observations will help a teacher to understand the child’s level of ability and whether to seek further assistance. Read more

Training Deepens Bond with Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village

Olivia's Place Comments Off , , ,

An overwhelming majority of infants and children in China’s welfare centers have a disability. Abandoned by their birth parents because they could not care for them medically or financially, these orphans have a range of disabilities ranging from the easily treatable to high-risk special needs children.

sfcv-groupBut this doesn’t mean orphans don’t have people who love and care for them. Some of the most at-risk orphans are sent to private foster care centers around China. Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village is one of them.


Shepherd’s Field was started in the late 1990’s to provide a nurturing home for orphans with the greatest needs. To date, they have cared for more than 4,000 children, have provided more than 3,000 surgeries and medical procedures and have helped over 900 children find their forever families and adoptive homes. Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village is an organization that LIH Olivia’s Place is proud to work with and over the last few years, we have provided direct therapy for some of their most at-risk children. However, although effective, one-on-one therapy impacts only one child. LIH Olivia’s Place has found that by training caregivers, we can empower them with the knowledge that will benefit the children each and every day.shepherds-1


img_5855When Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village requested training for their caregivers, we were very enthusiastic. We have worked with Shepherd’s Field for several years, and were pleased to see the effort they put in caring for their children. In August, hosted by Shepherd’s Field, LIH Olivia’s Place conducted an impactful two-day pro-bono seminar for caregivers and therapists from Shepherd’s Field and local welfare centers in Taiyuan.


Titled “Feeding and Positioning,” the two-day seminar focused on feeding and positioning techniques for children with severe disabilities and the highest needs. Conducted by Eva Ma, Occupational Therapist, and Chelsey Contillo, Speech-Language Pathologist, the training provided basic knowledge on anatomy/physiology as well as hands-on practical workshops. Eva and Chelsey also conducted a number of assessments and evaluations of Shepherd’s Field children, creating impact for these children immediately!


img_5856This two-day event also helped create a stronger relationship, trust, and bond between LIH Olivia’s Place therapists and the caregivers and therapists taking care of the children every day. It gave our therapists a chance to understand the living environment of these children so their recommendations could be more effective. Most importantly, it was a heartwarming two days working with the delightful staff and children of Shepherd’s Field.

We are now continuing direct therapy in our clinic on a pro-bono basis for a number of Shepherd’s Field children. Their caregivers also attend and receive recommendations to help the children at the end of each session. It’s wonderful to see the children progress, and the caregivers become more confident in their work. This is why we love what we do!

SMA Patients Get a Boost in China

Olivia's Place Comments Off , , ,

6P5A4178To honor Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Awareness Month this August, the first China SMA conference was held successfully in Beijing on August 6, 2016. Organized by Beijing Meier Advocacy & Support Center for SMA, nearly 200 SMA patients and their families attended the conference to gain important knowledge about the condition as well as treatment and therapy options. The speakers included leading experts in clinical SMA, genetics, genetic screening, prenatal diagnosis, rehabilitation therapy, and drug research areas from the USA, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the mainland. LIH Olivia’s Place was proud have Eva Ma, Occupational Therapist at our Beijing Clinic, as a speaker during the conference.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a disease that robs people of physical strength by affecting the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, taking away the ability to walk, eat, or breathe. It is the number one genetic cause of death for infants. SMA is caused by a mutation in the survival motor neuron gene 1 (SMN1). In a healthy person, this gene produces a protein that is critical to the function of the nerves that control our muscles. Without it, those nerve cells cannot properly function and eventually die, leading to debilitating and often fatal muscle weakness. SMA affects approximately 1 in 10,000 babies, and about 1 in every 50 people is a genetic carrier. SMA can affect any race or gender.

Though there is not yet an effective pharmaceutical treatment for SMA, various nursing services and therapies can delay progression of the disease, improve life quality, and earn more time for drug research. With the current progress in genetics research, SMA has been identified by the US National Institute of Health (NIH), as one of the neuromuscular diseases which will likely yield promising breakthroughs. However, in China, therapy and rehabilitation services available to SMA patients in China are underdeveloped and a lot of work remains on increasing clinical research and therapy, rehabilitation and education. SMA patients and their families lack the knowledge, access to resources and treatment/therapy options that are the standard for SMA patients in the rest of the world.


Eva Ma, Occupational Therapist, offered a dynamic presentation, demonstrating key concepts to conference participants
















LIH Olivia’s Place aims to help to close the gap when it comes to providing high-quality rehabilitation services to pediatric SMA patients in China. Eva Ma’s 90-minute presentation was titled “Positioning Children and Teenagers for Function,” and included valuable information about how to effectively position children with SMA for effective skeletal and muscular development and to maintain the most efficient respiratory (breathing) functions and feeding and nutritional status. Eva emphasized the importance of regularly changing a child’s position, which is critical for developing gross and fine motor skills, maintaining functional use of their hands, and preventing further deformities. It is critical to provide solid support for a child with SMA in all different positions so that they have the stability needed in order to maintain proper body alignment throughout the day.

ThiIMG_2416s functional presentation was very well-received by conference participants, and the Q&A session spilled over its allotted time, as many parents sought out Eva’s expertise on specific challenges their children are facing.

With the large demand of SMA patients needing access to high-quality rehabilitation services in China, LIH Olivia’s Place and Olivia’s Foundation are now partnering with Beijing Meier Advocacy Group to assist these children and their families. We look forward to making a difference in the lives of children with SMA!

Meier Advocacy & Support Center for SMA was founded by actress Feng Jiamei and SMA Type III patient Ma Bin. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with SMA and supports families through networking, information, and services and sponsorships. The organization maintains the Chinese SMA Patient Registry and collects clinical and genetic information of individuals affected by Spinal Muscular Atrophy to promote clinical trials in China.

Clinician Profile: Occupational Therapist Eva Ma

Olivia's Place Comments Off , ,

Eva Ma, Occupational Therapist, celebrates Children's Day with Charissa, a former client

Eva Ma, Occupational Therapist, celebrates Children’s Day with Charissa, a former client

Eva Ma is an Occupational Therapist at LIH Olivia’s Place in Beijing.

Eva is an occupational therapist from the US, with more than 20 years of experience in pediatric occupational therapy. She holds a BS in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California. Her extensive experience covers early childhood education programs for 3-5 year olds and services for pre-kindergarten through middle school children with disabilities. She has provided interventions in home and day care settings, as well as special education and general education classrooms. Eva has dedicated time to projects around the world for equipment fitting and provisions for children with physical disabilities. She speaks English and Cantonese.




How long have you been in China?

I have been in Beijing, China since August of 2015.


Why did you choose to work at LIH Olivia’s Place?

I was looking for a place to work and volunteer in a developing country.


Why did you choose your field?

I was on a student visa studying in America, I needed to study and become a professional, which would allow me to stay in America after graduation. I was inclined to go to a helping profession. I wanted to study in a field that I can help the whole person acros6s the life span. I came across the field of occupational therapy, which was one of the skills in need in America.

What are some of the most rewarding experiences you have had in your chose profession? I have worked with many different clients in different settings for almost 27 years. I have volunteered and worked in many developing countries. I am grateful that I have a long list of very rewarding experiences. It is priceless.

  • The ability to help a child with spinal bifida who was not able to walk to get a proper seating and mobility base so that he could sit up and be vertical.
  • A child who used to be scared of movement and looked at me with an attentive gaze as an expression of joy as he slid down a slide.
  • A set of parents reported that they could go out and dine in a restaurant as their child who has ASD tolerated the light and the sound.
  • An older man who could lift his arm actively as he was recovering from a stroke. Helping an older woman who has cerebral palsy to taste some ice cream after not being able to eat by mouth for many years.
  • I have taught seminars in North America. It was so exciting when fellow therapists wrote back and said that they tried what I taught them and it worked.


What’s your favorite thing about living in China?

I am learning to speak Mandarin Chinese and to practice writing both simplified and traditional Chinese. I get to emerge in this Chinese culture.


What would you like to be doing in 5 years’ time?

Doing the same thing I am doing… lying on the floor putting together 9-piece puzzle pieces with a 5-year-old kindergartener, pushing through an obstacle course on a scooter board with a 3-year-old preschooler, putting up the pony swing for a 10-year- old….  playing with children and making a good living.

Beijing Clinical Team Gives Generously in Their Community

Olivia's Place Comments Off , , , , , ,

In the last three months of 2015, the clinical team at LIH Olivia’s Place in Beijing contributed an amazing amount of time and skill to pro bono work. Here we provide some brief statistics to help give you an idea of their dedication to the communities we serve:


Speech and Language Therapy

  • The speech-language team, led by Chelsey Contillo, provided 16 hours of direct therapy to children from Bethel, including Yu Lin, as seen in the photo below.
    Chelsey Contillo, SLP, Beijing, with YuLin

    Chelsey Contillo, SLP, Beijing, with YuLin

    LIH Olivia's Place Beijing Speech  Therapist Peng Bo works with a child from Bethel

    LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing Speech Therapist Peng Bo works with a child from Bethel

    PB TTY + WY Bethel


  • They also provided an on-site training on early language development to the therapy and ‘house’ ayis at Shepherd’s Field, followed by 4 evaluations for new children. Thanks to Frangie Yan, Client Care Coordinator, and Speech Therapists PengBo and Tessie for their great input to this day. The feedback from Shepherd’s Field was overwhelmingly positive and they are hoping to have Chelsey and team back again for more training and therapy in the new year.


Physical Therapy

  • The PT team, consisting only of Marc Innerhofer, provided 10 hours of direct therapy to a young boy from Morning Star, who is reported to be making great progress under Marc’s guidance. Marc also managed to provide another 12 hours of direct therapy at the clinic to children from Shepard’s Field.


Occupational Therapy    

  • OT Eva Ma, alongside PT Marc Innerhofer, provided another 12 hours of direct therapy in a multidisciplinary approach to a group of 4 children in total, with assistance from OT Jessie.  Shepard’s Field was so impressed with our team that they even featured them in their own newsletter!!
    Marc Innerfhofer (PT) and Eva Ma (OT) with children from Shepherd's Field at LIH Olivia's Place Beijing

    Marc Innerfhofer (PT) and Eva Ma (OT) with children from Shepherd’s Field at LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing

  • Eva also gavetime to travel all the way to Jinningnan in Inner Mongolia to visit a welfare center with which we have developed a strong partnership. She spent a day there, with translation and assistance from TingTing Yan, Junior Occupational Therapist, to see a number of children. They travelled there and back on the night train and Eva still managed to come to work the next day!!
  • Occupational Therapist Sorcha Ni Chadhain (assisted by Occupational Therapists TingTing and Tessie) provided another 16 hours of direct therapy to children from Bethel. Some children were seen in a very effective multi-disciplinary approach alongside the speech team, while others received individual input.



SO……..that’s a total of:

66 hours of direct therapy!!!!!!

1 full day Speech and Language Training

1 full Occupational Therapy consultation

2 very long train rides

and a large number of happy children and carers!