Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

LaVonne Fox


Heart Diseases -- rehabilitation; Occupational Therapy -- methods


According to the American Heart Association (2007) statistics, it is estimated that 79,400.000 American adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease, or one in every three people. It is estimated that 37,500.000 are over the age of 65 years. (AHA, 2007). Heart disease and stroke are the first and third leading cause of death for both men and women in America and accounts for 40% for all deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2005). Approximately one individual will die from heart disease every thirty-three seconds (CDC, 2005).

According to the CDC (2005), a key strategy for improving survival rates and decreasing the financial impact of CVD is to provide the public and health care practitioners with education pertaining to risk factor reduction. It is imperative that qualified healthcare professionals, such as occupational therapists, have the information and skills necessary to provide their clients with: 1) the education and training to reduce modifiable risk factors, 2) how to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart disease, 3) to understand the importance of early intervention and 4) to make necessary life-style changes, to achieve these goals (CDC, 2005).

Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is a holistic treatment intervention, implemented by a multidisciplinary team of professionals. The goal of CR is to reduce the potential for future cardiac events, reduce disability, dysfunction and or mortality following a cardiac event. Occupational therapists can be valuable members of a CR team.

An extensive review to the literature reveals there is limited information available pertaining to the role of occupational therapists on a CR team from an occupational therapists (OT) perspective. The problem is there are no clear standards of practice for occupational therapists (OT) in cardiac rehabilitation. The information that is available is vague, specifically when it pertains to exercise prescription and ever changing cardiac interventional procedures. This can result in OT's not considering cardiac rehabilitation based on the lack of organized information from an OT perspective and the OT profession as a whole. This results in the loss of valuable insight and therapeutic approaches from occupational therapists for both their potential clients and cardiac rehabilitation healthcare colleagues.

The methods used to investigate and examine these issues included: professional journals, publications, and standards of practice and clinical guidelines by renowned authorities associated with CHD treatment and intervention. In addition, the author of this project has significant clinical experience of 15 years in this area of expertise.

The proposed solution, to the problem, is the development of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Education Module for Entry-level Occupational Therapists. This is a comprehensive education module that encapsulates all the information relevant to CR for an OT who wishes to pursue a role on a multidisciplinary CR team from an OT perspective. The educational module manual covers 13 educational units, designed to be presented over the course of thirteen weeks or one full semester.