Graduation Year


Document Type


Degree Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy


Background: It is estimated that 55% of older adults who reside in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) have chronic pain that affects their daily function. However, limited research has been conducted on the effectiveness of electrical stimulation (e-stim) in treating upper extremity (UE) pain for the older adult population specifically.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine whether electrical stimulation can decrease UE pain in clients age 65+ residing in a SNF. A sub-question in the study was whether e-stim can improve UE functional performance in older adult clients.

Theoretical Framework: There are two guiding theoretical frameworks for this pilot study, the biomechanical and rehabilitative frames of reference.

Methods: This study was a quasi-experimental design in the form of pretest-posttest design. Each participant was administered two pre-tests, Visual Pain Scale (VPS) and Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (QuickDASH), the electrical stimulation treatment for at least eight visits, then the post-tests.

Results: The results of this study found that e-stim shows promise in decreasing UE pain and improving UE function for older adult clients 65+ years old residing in a SNF. There was a low sample size at the conclusion of the study, therefore, more data needs to be collected in order to determine if the results are statistically significant. All participants in this study indicated decreased pain and improved UE function based on the post-test outcome measures that were used. On the Visual Pain Scale, eight out of ten participants indicated a change in score from preto post-test. The change in the VPS score was considered clinically significant, with greater than a 2-point difference. On the Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand, half of the participants (5) indicated a change in score from pre- to post-test. that was considered clinically significant with greater than a 15-point difference.

Conclusions: The results of this pilot study look promising for the use of e-stim to decrease UE pain and improve UE function for older adults 65+ residing in a SNF. The study will continue to collect data until there are sufficient participants to perform paired-sample t-tests to determine statistical significance of pretest/posttest scores for both the VPS and QuickDASH

Faculty Mentor

Cindy Hayden, DHEd., OTR/L, CHT

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Committee Member

Leah Simpkins, OTD, OTR/L, CPAM, CDP, PNAP

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy



My Family

To my fiancé Jessica, my daughter Ezmae, my mom, and my mother-in-law, thank you so much for your love and encouragement throughout this process. Beginning this endeavor amid a global pandemic was no easy feat and it took your support and help with life’s other responsibilities to get me through. I know that my studies have taken my time and energy over the past two years, so I thank you with all my heart for your own sacrifices and encouragement. I truly could not have done this without you. Lastly, to my late father Micky, you were taken way too early in life, and you have missed so much. So many things that I know you would have enjoyed, including the birth of your granddaughter. I always strive in all my endeavors to make you proud of me and I love and miss you every day.

Dr. Cindy Hayden

I would like to express my sincere gratitude and thanks to Dr. Hayden for chairing my committee and for your guidance and support during this process. Taking on a clinical study was very challenging, and I would have been lost without your constant guidance and feedback. I could not have done it without your wisdom, kindness, and encouragement.

Dr. Leah Simpkins

Thank you for your willingness to be an active member of my committee and for your guidance, support, and assistance as the content of my project evolved. I also greatly appreciate your words of encouragement and affirmation during this process.

Therapists and Clinical Sites

I would like to say thank you to the therapists and the clinical sites that assisted with data collection for this study. I know that the workload and time constraints of working as a therapist is very demanding and I appreciate your time and efforts in helping me collect the data I needed for this study.

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)