Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2023

Document Type

Oral Presentation/Poster

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)

Faculty Mentor

Mackenzie Feldhacker, OTD, OTR/L, CLT-LANA

Second Advisor

Narisa Tappitake, MOTR/L, CHT, CLC


ANS Dyregulation, mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), military service members, relaxation, occupational therapy

Subject Categories

Occupational Therapy


Current evidence indicates that a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) can negatively impact autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulation, leading to decreased occupational performance (Belchamber, 2022; Frueh et al., 2020). This project aimed to support military service members in ANS regulation following an mTBI to enhance the quality of life (QoL) and occupational performance. The Person Environment Occupation (PEO) Model, Psychological Model of Stress, and Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) provided a theoretical foundation for the capstone project. Clinical practice, the development of a standardized pilot manual with a relaxation-based curriculum, and education for the interdisciplinary healthcare team were implemented to achieve the objectives identified in the project. The project was completed at Fort Carson’s Intrepid Spirit Center while treating military service members who have experienced at least one mTBI. Outcomes of the project included a decrease in symptoms of ANS dysregulation with less impact on occupational performance, a higher quality of life (QoL) through relaxation-based interventions, and an enhanced understanding of OT’s role within mTBI care through interdisciplinary education. Occupational therapy providers are trained to enhance QoL and address barriers to optimal occupational performance by providing individualized interventions to support ANS regulation to improve cognition, sleep, social interaction, and other meaningful occupations.



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