Research Article  |   July 2013
Systematic Review of Occupational Therapy Interventions to Improve Cognitive Development in Children Ages Birth–5 Years
Author Affiliations
  • Gloria J. Frolek Clark, PhD, OTR/L, BCP, FAOTA, is Private Practitioner, 23878 Scenic View Drive, Adel, IA 50003; gfrolekclark@gmail.com
  • Theresa L. Schlabach, PhD, OTR/L, BCP, is Professor, Master of Occupational Therapy Department, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, IA, and Private Practitioner in Early Intervention, State of Illinois
Article Information
Early Intervention / Evidence-Based Practice / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / School-Based Practice / Special Issue on Occupational Therapy and Early Intervention/Early Childhood
Research Article   |   July 2013
Systematic Review of Occupational Therapy Interventions to Improve Cognitive Development in Children Ages Birth–5 Years
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2013, Vol. 67, 425-430. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.006163
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2013, Vol. 67, 425-430. doi:10.5014/ajot.2013.006163
Abstract

This systematic review examined the research evidence for interventions used by occupational therapists to improve cognitive development in children from birth to age 5. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed by three teams of two people. From the selected articles, which described Level I and IV studies, two general categories emerged: (1) developmental interventions and (2) joint attention interventions. Developmental interventions occurred in neonatal intensive care units, home, child care centers, and preschools. Synthesis of the articles indicates that developmental interventions result in gains in early cognitive development (e.g., infant and preschool age) with inconclusive evidence for gains through school age. Educating parents of preterm infants to be more sensitive to their child’s needs and more responsive in interactions increased cognitive outcomes and joint attention. Interventions using joint attention enhanced generalization to novel situations and increased play, language, and social interactions in preschoolers with autism. Further studies that describe intervention strategies used to enhance cognitive functioning to promote preliteracy skills such as joint attention, imitation, memory, problem solving, and decision making and are conducted by occupational therapists are needed.