Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Gail Bass


Caregivers -- Ghana; Cerebral Palsy -- therapy -- Ghana; Cultural Competency; Child


Introduction: Individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) are able to lead functional, productive, and fulfilling lives when provided the opportunity. In the country of Ghana, the prevalence of CP is estimated to be one out of every 300 births (Purple Field Productions [PFP], 2011), however, a lack of education about CP and other disabilities, limited access to healthcare services, and scarce resources hamper the Ghanaian people’s opportunities for habilitation (Reynolds, 2010; Tinney, Chiodo, Haig, & Wiredu, 2007). In addition, cultural beliefs and societal attitudes toward people with disabilities in Ghana pose a barrier for those individuals to fully participate in occupation.

According to the World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT), occupational therapists have a responsibility and an opportunity to address occupational injustices through the development of programs for underserved populations (WFOT, 2006). Occupational therapy (OT) is an established element in the treatment of impairments and symptoms associated with CP (Steultjens et al., 2004). Often OT intervention includes parent or caregiver education. Because of the lack of access to medical care and therapy services, as well as the stigma related with disability, much of the care of individuals with CP is up to family members or informal caregivers. These caregivers often do not have access to the training or resources they need (Tinney et al., 2007).

Purpose: The purpose of this program is to enable caregivers in Ghana with the training and knowledge of the basic skills and assistive devices to more effectively care for individuals with CP while enabling those with CP to engage in occupations more independently. It is also intended to empower the caregivers to pass on the skills and knowledge to other caregivers in their communities.

Methodology: A review of literature was conducted including use of professional journals, textbooks, and organizational websites. Topics investigated were Ghana; disability culture, provision of healthcare and resources, and CP in Ghana; OT interventions for individuals with CP; and adult education principles. In addition, data from a needs assessment was obtained to provide a personal perspective for content of the product and targeted audience. Three compatible Canadian occupational behavioral models guided the literature review and development of the product: Person-Environment-Occupation Model, Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement, and the Canadian Model of Client-Centered Enablement.

Conclusion: Implementation of this program is intended to enable and empower caregivers in Ghana to carry out that role more effectively, in turn improving the occupational performance and engagement of individuals with CP. It is recommended to be used within the curriculum of the University of North Dakota OT Department’s international service learning course as pilot program. It is expected the participants of the course will learn the contents of the product, How to Help a Child with Cerebral Palsy, before distributing it to and using it as a guide in teaching caregivers in Ghana during the fieldwork portion of the course.