Graduation Year


Document Type


Degree Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy


Background: Occupational Therapy Certified Hand Therapists (OT CHTs) working in the outpatient hand clinic tend to use the dominant biomechanical approach in the rehabilitation of their upper extremity (UE) clients. Due to the existence of a multitude of barriers and challenges for implementing an occupation-based approach, OT CHTs may not treat their UE clients holistically, placing less focus on treating the occupational performance deficits caused by the UE impairment. Purpose: The purpose of this Capstone is to explore the essence of OT CHTs’ current lived experiences in the use of occupation-based approach in the outpatient hand therapy clinic. Theoretical Framework. The Capstone project is guided by the dominant biomechanical approach used in the outpatient hand clinic, The Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement (CMOP-E) an occupational-performance model, and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF). The ICF is a framework that can bring balance to applying the occupation-based approach in hand therapy along with the dominant biomechanical approach. Methods. The descriptive phenomenological study included a questionnaire that was completed through interviewing six study participants on their perspectives on using an occupation-based approach with their UE clients. The results of the interviews were then analyzed for codes that resulted in four themes on the participants’ perspectives of the use of an occupation-based approach in outpatient hand therapy. Results. The results from the study indicate that the participants value occupation and do apply occupation-based interventions (OBI). The use of an occupation-based approach was found to be implemented at varying degrees in the hand clinic determined by the challenges and existing barriers each of the OT CHTs faced in the hand clinic culture and environment. Conclusions: The study participants demonstrated an awareness of occupation as the core value of the occupational therapy profession and implemented it to varying degrees in the outpatient hand clinic.

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Donna Colaianni PhD, OTR/L, CHT

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Committee Member

Dr. Cindy Hayden DHEd, OTR/L, CHT

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)