Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. Carolyn Podolski

Second Advisor

Dr. Jon Sanford


With return to function as the primary goal of occupational hand therapy, it is imperative to create comprehensive and client-centered care that targets functional reengagement. However, the biomedical approach used within hand therapy primarily targets the treatment of body structures rather than the patient’s occupational performance. Hand therapy must transcend the mere remediation of the patient’s physical impairment or injury and harness creativity and client-centered care to address the performance deficits of each patient.

The purpose of this program was to incorporate occupation-based-interventions (OBI) into a traditional hand therapy clinical program to increase functional improvement and reengagement into the kitchen for individuals with a Distal Radius Fracture (DRF). The main goal of this capstone was to create the Culinary Care program addressing cooking performance deficits and promote safe and pain-free participation in the kitchen with the confidence to independently engage in cooking post DRF.

In this study, we explored the benefits of creating an occupation-based-program, specifically targeting culinary activities, to aid in the recovery of individuals who have sustained a DRF. The creation of this six-week program, Culinary Care, was set into progressive stages in order to match the patient with appropriate challenges in their specific stage of recovery. The various cooking and kitchen activities were strategically matched with that research and my own data proved to be the most challenging for patients with DRF. One person completed the Culinary Care program, and one person participated as a control. Results indicated that the participant in the cooking program exhibited greater improvement across all measures compared to the participant receiving only standard hand therapy. Based on these results, my study indicates that a cooking-based intervention program could potentially lead to greater progress in the recovery from upper extremity injuries while also receiving standard hand therapy care.

Occupation-based interventions used in conjunction with the biomechanical approaches practiced in standard hand therapy show promising effectiveness. The COPM should be utilized in addition to the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire (DASH) to measure activity and participation to employ client-centered practice. More scientific evidence regarding the OBI’s effectiveness in hand therapy is needed.

Culinary Care will be implemented into Emory Musculoskeletal Institute once I begin my career there as an occupational therapist.

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