Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

John J. Rearden


The improvement in physical abilities in the geriatric population after occupational therapy was investigated to determine whether self-esteem would also improve. Fifteen subjects from three different nursing homes were measured. All of the subjects were referred to occupational therapy by their physician.

Treatment was implemented by trained rehabilitation aides after an occupational therapist assessed each subject and determined the need for therapy. Measurable goals were set for each subject to improve dysfunctional areas and reviewed with each resident and rehabilitation aide responsible for implementing the treatment program.

Types of treatment consisted of active and passive range of motion, strengthening, retrograde massage, applying splints, fine and gross motor tasks, and increasing independence in activites of daily living.

Data were collected on each subject twice, at four week intervals. Physical status was measured using standard rehabilitation tools. Self-esteem was assessed on a revised scale of the Tennessee Self Concept Scale.

The investigation found neither a significant improvement in motor functioning nor a significant improvement in self-esteem. Furthermore, the subjects significantly deteriorated in physical status. The hypothesis that self-esteem will improve among the geriatric population remains untested due to the lack significant improvement in the subjects physical status. Implications and limitations of the study are discussed.