Date of Award

Fall 12-2022

Document Type

OTD Capstone Project

Degree Name

Post Professional Occupational Therapy


Rehabilitation Sciences

Research Coordinator

Christine Raber, PHD, OTR/L

Program Director

Mikel Stone, OTD, OTR/L



This study aimed to investigate and determine the knowledge and education of occupational therapy practitioners who evaluate and treat developmental trauma in Appalachia and adjacent counties by answering the following research questions. 1.) What is the level of education, years of experience, and what formal diagnosis practitioners received on referrals? 2.) Are practitioners satisfied with resources to treat trauma histories? Do they participate in self-learning activities, and what disciplines do practitioners find in their self-learning education? 3.) What theoretical frameworks and assessment tools do practitioners utilize to develop treatment plans? 4.) What are the barriers to treatment when children have trauma histories? The study analyzed data collected from 80 practitioners, as a non-experimental, descriptive study, through an online survey offered to pediatric occupational therapy practitioners in Appalachia and adjacent counties. The instrument used was an author-developed, web-based survey containing 18 questions about practitioners’ experience with developmental trauma. Practitioners offered insight into demographics, education, self-directed learning, diagnoses, barriers, and occupational therapy-specific theories and tools to assess developmental trauma. Pediatric practitioners with access to trauma-informed care resources can bring awareness to adverse childhood events (ACE) by identifying early signs of exposure and can implement evidence-based practice to reduce the developmental effects of childhood trauma. By understanding the barriers, education, and available resources, therapists can build a network specifically for pediatric occupational therapy practitioners in Appalachia for trauma-informed best-care practices.

Keywords: developmental trauma, occupational therapy, trauma-informed practice


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