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J Spinal Cord Med. 2009;32(3):283-97.

SCIRehab Project series: the occupational therapy taxonomy.

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Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.



Lack of a classification system for occupational therapy (OT) rehabilitation interventions for traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation in the United States makes conducting outcomes research difficult. This article describes an OT SCI rehabilitation taxonomy (system to categorize and classify treatments).


OT clinicians and researchers from 6 SCI rehabilitation centers developed a taxonomy to describe details of each OT session. This effort is part of the SCIRehab study, which uses the practice-based evidence, observational research methodology to examine current treatment processes without changing existing practice.


The OT taxonomy consists of 26 OT activities (eg, training on activities of daily living, communication, home management skills, wheelchair mobility, bed mobility, transfers, balance, strengthening, stretching, equipment evaluation, and community reintegration). Time spent on each activity is documented along with therapeutic interventions used to facilitate the activity. Treatment descriptions are enhanced further with identification of assistance needs, patient direction of care, and family involvement, which help to describe and guide OT activity selection. The OT taxonomy documentation process includes all OT rehabilitation interventions for patients with SCI while maintaining efficiency in data collection.


The electronic documentation system is being used at 6 centers for all OT sessions with 1,500 patients with acute traumatic SCI. It is the largest known attempt to document details of the comprehensive OT rehabilitation process for patients with SCI in the United States.

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