Purpose: This qualitative descriptive study explored participants’, with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI), experiences with meaningful intensive task specific training (ITST). Methods: Three participants completed 24-ITST upper extremity motor therapy intervention sessions. Qualitative interviews were completed at three time points for a case series: baseline, within 7 days of the completion of the final ITST intervention session, and within one month of the final ITST intervention session for a total of 9 interviews. Results: Three themes were identified including: Quality of Movement Enhances Normal Use of Hands, Empowering Through Education and Motivation to Participate and Enhance Quality of Life. Through the use of motor learning concepts, positive reinforcement, and education positive outcomes were reported and promoted self-efficacy in all participants. Conclusions: A collaborative and client-centered approach to rehabilitation with a focus on performance-based goals was found to increase self-efficacy leading to greater independence and self-determination for participants. Interventions focusing on meaningful client-centered occupations are recommended. Individuals with chronic SCI typically do not have access to rehabilitation services and more research is needed on interventions to further explore the benefits of additional rehabilitation services and an increased focus on practitioner education on optimal interventions for chronic injury populations.

Author Bio(s)

Camille L. Skubik-Peplaski, PhD OTR/L FAOTA, is a Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in the College of Health Sciences at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY. She is a licensed occupational therapist in KY with research interests in occupation-based practice.

Amanda C. Glueck, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky, College of Medicine, Department of Neurology, in Lexington, KY. She is an experimental psychologist whose research focuses on identifying novel neurorehabilitation aids for individuals with acquired brain and spinal cord injuries.

Casey Humphrey, OTD, MHA, OTR/L, CBIS, CDRS is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at Eastern Kentucky University. Dr. Humphrey is also a licensed occupational therapist, certified brain injury specialist, and certified driving rehabilitation specialist.

Elizabeth Salmon Powell MS, is a biomedical engineer who worked in the Stroke and Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Research program at the University of Kentucky during the conduct of this research. She is now pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy at the University of Kentucky.

Cassandra Ginn is occupational therapist with over a decade of experience in inpatient rehabilitation. In addition to her clinical experience, Cassandra also works as a faculty member at Eastern Kentucky University instructing students in the department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

Melba Custer, PhD is a Professor in the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy at Spalding University. Her research interests include program evaluation and outcomes research.


Acknowledgments: This project was funded by the Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation to Lumy Sawaki, MD, PhD (Award number: 3048114338). The grant was awarded while she was employed at the University of Kentucky. The opinions expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not reflect the view of the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the US government. The authors would also like to express their appreciation to Dr. Sara Salles for her referral of participants for this study. Clinical Trial Registry: NCT03954496