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Background: Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA), or stroke, is a leading cause of death and a major source of disability in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2017). Stroke is classically characterized as a neurological deficit attributed to an acute focal injury of the central nervous system (CNS) by a vascular cause de (Sacco, et al., 2013). Vascular causes include cerebral infarction, intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), and subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). and is a major cause of disability and death worldwide (Sacco, et al., 2013). Stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients are at a high risk for a subsequent event. Each year, 15 million people worldwide will have a stroke. In America, the number of people who will have a stroke this year is approximately 795,000. Of that large number, 25% of stroke patients will have a secondary stroke within 5 years (Flach, 2020). A high number of secondary stroke events presents a need to develop interventions and strategies to decrease the prevalence.

Purpose: The purpose of the capstone project is to define the role of occupational therapy in secondary stroke prevention. Occupational therapists are an integral part of the rehabilitation process and can offer a holistic approach to prevent second strokes. Identifying the role of occupational therapy within secondary stroke prevention will help to bring an occupation-based approach to secondary stroke prevention to increase participant’s volition and create/modify habits. This will foster a healthier lifestyle and ultimately reduce the likelihood of a second stroke. Awareness of the role of an occupational therapist will also help to educate the interdisciplinary team working within the stroke care continuum. This paper will also help advocate for the role of occupational therapy in secondary stroke prevention by clearly defining the role.

Methods and Results: Qualitative data was obtained through a needs assessment that included interviews, observations and survey completions of 15 stroke patients and 20 occupational therapy practitioners over the course of 12 weeks. The results from the needs assessment, along with the thorough literature review allowed the student investigator to define the role of occupational therapy in secondary stroke prevention.

Conclusion: The qualitative study identifies the unique role of occupational therapy within secondary stroke prevention. Occupational therapy practitioners have the expertise to provide stroke patients with client-centered education, health promotion, self-care skills, fine and gross motor skills, functional mobility, core strength, sensory processing, visual-motor skills, praxis, range of motion, strength, cognition, behavioral health and more. All of these occupation-based interventions work to reduce the likelihood of a secondary stroke event. Advocacy for occupational therapy in secondary stroke prevention is needed, as there is limited literature outlining the role and expertise. Occupational therapy has an impactful and unique role in secondary stroke prevention.

Publication Date

Fall 12-9-2021


University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

Medical Subject Headings

Occupational Therapy, Secondary Stroke Prevention


Occupational Therapy


Poster presented at the Fall 2021 Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, December 9-10, 2021.

Advocating for Occupational Therapy’s Role in Secondary Stroke Prevention