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Course Overview

Individualized, progressive, intensive, task-specific training is an essential intervention for upper extremity retraining after a stroke. Achieving this high dose is clinically feasible in both inpatient and outpatient settings. While research has established the feasibility of this evidence-based intervention, implementation into practice remains slow. The goal of this course is to provide a comprehensive overview of task-specific training and provide practical tools for implementing this intervention with a variety of individuals undergoing stroke rehabilitation.

The workshop will begin with a thorough overview of upper extremity retraining after a stroke, including the general constructs and theoretical framework of task-specific training. We will define task-specific practice, discuss current trends in UE rehabilitation and the relationship of an individualized, progressive, intensive intervention to improved client outcomes. 

Second, we will discuss a client-centered approach to task selection, grading, and progressing tasks during the therapy session to optimize client participation and outcomes. The use of standardized assessments to inform the aforementioned principles and record client outcomes will also be presented.     

Finally, we will address how to translate these principles with inpatient and outpatient populations. Each clinical setting and population has unique barriers to implementing an intervention of this magnitude. We will discuss practical modifications to help advance clinical implementation and promote evidence-based, occupation-centered practice for stroke rehabilitation. The workshop will conclude with in-depth video case studies wherein individuals will participate in small group discussions related to clinical application. These discussions will afford attendees the opportunity to identify perceived barriers and establish an action plan for implementation.  

Upon the conclusion of this workshop, participants will have an understanding of the constructs, design, and clinical importance of progressive, intensive, task-specific training for the upper extremity after a stroke and will be able to implement in their clinical setting.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • understand the neural mechanisms underlying stroke-induced upper extremity impairments and the contribution of the various impairments to loss of function
  • discuss factors affecting how to choose the appropriate standardized assessments for individuals with stroke
  • discuss how results from assessments at various levels of measurement and prognostic data are used to make informed clinical decisions regarding goal setting, selection of interventions, and continuation of services
  • understand the principles of task-specific training as they apply to the upper extremity
  • describe methods to tailor task-specific training to individual goals, and grade and progress training to challenge individual abilities.

Continuing Education Credits

Occupational therapy
The Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is an AOTA Approved Provider of continuing education. This course is offered for 5.75 AOTA CEUs. The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA.

Program Agenda

8:30 am   Registration
9:00-10:00   Introduction to upper extremity movement
10:00-10:30   Sensorimotor impairments and their relationship to UE function
10:30-10:45   Break
10:45-11:15   Standardized assessment of UE function: Clinical significance and importance for UE rehabilitation
11:15-12:00   Principles of task-specific training
12:00-1:00 pm   Lunch (on your own)
1:00-1:45   Translating principles of task-specific training to clinical practice
1:45-2:00   Break
 2:00-2:45   Task-specific training in action: Video case series of mild, moderate, and severe stroke
 2:45-3:45   An action plan for implementation: Interactive case-based training
3:45-4:15 pm   Wrap up and questions; Adjourn

Course Presenter

Kimberly Waddell, MS, OTR/L currently works as a research occupational therapist in the Program of Physical Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Prior to this recent transition in March of 2014, Kim worked full-time as an occupational therapist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago on the Patient Recovery Unit. In 2012, Kim was awarded the Buchanan Research Fellowship at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to study the feasibility of task-specific training in the inpatient setting in collaboration with Drs. Catherine Lang and Rebecca Birkenmeier from Washington University. This study was recently published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy. Kim has served as course faculty for several stroke-related courses at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and has lectured at the Carle Neuroscience Symposium on acquired brain injury. She recently presented at the American Occupational Therapy Association annual conference and spoke as a guest-lecturer at the University of Illinois at Chicago on upper extremity function following a stroke.


Registration Fees

  • $150 - Registration fee
  • $120 - AOTA member fee
  • $90 - WU faculty/staff/alumni/fieldwork educator registration fee
  • $30 - Student registration fee
  • Click here to register online

Course Location

This course will be held in the OT Auditorium, located inside the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine. Our building is located at 4444 Forest Park Ave., St. Louis, MO 63108.
Click here for directions.

Course Cancellations, Special Accommodations, and Disclosure Policy

Contact Us

Please contact us at (314) 286-1600 with any questions or for more information.

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