Occupational Therapy Interventions for Activities of Daily Living in Adults with Osteoarthritis

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Publication Date



Primary Focus: Productive Aging

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the clinical presentation of osteoarthritis and three ways it impacts Activities of Daily Living (ADL) performance
  2. Recognize the value of an Occupational Therapy intervention in addition to surgical and pharmacological interventions for osteoarthritis
  3. Identify at least three current evidence based practice interventions for improving ADL performance for people with osteoarthritis


Currently, 30.8 million Americans have diagnoses of osteoarthritis (OA) and the number of individuals with arthritis is projected to increase to 78 million by 2040 (CDC, 2016). Health care costs for individuals with OA are estimated at $18,345 per year, which is more than two times higher than patients without OA (Le, Montejano, Cao, Zhao, & Ang, 2012). OA symptoms greatly impact an individual’s ability to perform life roles with independence (AOTA, 2014). Occupational therapists (OT) implement interventions to preserve and increase mobility necessary to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) (Frost, 2011).

A systematic review was conducted using PubMed, CINAHL, and Scopus databases to search existing literature from 2010-2016 to answer the clinical question: What is the current evidence that OT intervention is effective in improving ADL performance in adults with OA? Thirteen articles that addressed adults over age 18, written in the English language, measured ADL outcomes and used interventions within the scope of OT were identified for review. Articles were critiqued using Law & MacDermid’s Critical Review Forms (Law & MacDermid, 2014). Themes that emerged from the evidence include orthotics, exercise-based interventions, preparatory methods, patient education, and pain.

This session will present findings from this review. Results show there is moderate evidence supporting the use of orthoses, moderate evidence for exercise-based interventions, mixed evidence for preparatory methods, and insufficient evidence for patient education for improving ADL performance in adults with OA. Pain was a common outcome measure reported in the studies. Findings suggest that interventions that improved pain did not always impact ADL performance. In clinical practice, the strongest evidence suggests exercise-based and orthotic interventions result in improved performance of ADLs in adults with OA.


American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA]. (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process. American Occupational Therapy Association, 68(Supplement 1), S1-S48. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2014.682006.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2016). Arthritis-Related Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis-related-stats.htm

Frost, L., (2011). Occupational Therapy’s Role in Managing Arthritis. Retrieved July 15, 2016, from

http://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/AboutOT/Professionals/WhatIsOT/PA/Facts/Arthritis fact sheet.pdf?la=en

Law, M. & MacDermid, J.C. (2014). Evidence Based Rehabilitation: A Guide to Practice, 3rd Ed.

Thorofare, NJ: Slack Inc.

Le, T. K., Montejano, L. B., Cao, Z., Zhao, Y., & Ang, D. (2012). Health care costs in US patients with

and without a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Journal of Pain Research, 5, 23–30.



Level of Material: Introductory and Intermediate Level

Target Audience: Occupational therapists, Occupational therapist assistants

Presentation: 47:21