Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Department or Program

Occupational Therapy

Department or Program Chair

Ruth Ramsey, EdD, OTR/L

First Reader

Kitsum Li, OTD, OTR/L, CSRS

Second Reader

Shad St. Louis, MS, OTR/L


In recent years, the number of inpatient cardiovascular surgeries has significantly increased in hospitals around America. Occupational therapists in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Mills-Peninsula Medical Center (Burlingame, California) lack a standard protocol for addressing physical, cognitive, and psychosocial factors in patients post cardiac surgery. Furthermore, individuals’ experience and clinical reasoning frequently guides interventions rather than current evidence. The American Occupational Therapy Association’s Centennial Vision encourages occupational therapists to pursue science-driven practices and provide evidence-based interventions. In response to this Vision, an evidence-based clinical pathway was developed for the occupational therapists at Mills-Peninsula Medical Center. The clinical pathway facilitates patients’ return to their highest level of function during post cardiac surgery rehabilitation. The proposed clinical pathway includes physical recovery, early detection of cognitive impairment, and psychosocial health for patients post cardiac surgery. The final clinical pathway was compiled into a clinical manual, entitled Clinical Pathway for Post Cardiac Surgery – Progression of Occupational Therapy in Intensive Care Unit, and adapted into a pocket guide.