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Application of OT Foundations

Models and Frames of Reference help shape our thinking when we consider occupational participation and performance. These tools also help our understanding of the roles that environment, context, and motivation can have on engagement, progress, and performance.

Ecology of Human Performance (EHP)

  • Looks at interactions of humans & environments

  • Context is key

  • Context + Person + Task = Performance

  • Function vs Dysfunction (see image)


Person-Environment-Occupation-Performance (PEOP)

  • The "fit" of person + environment + occupation = performance

  • Disability is seen as a bad fit of P, E, O equaling poor performance

  • PEO can maximize or minimize performance opportunities

  • Function vs dysfunction (see image)


Model of Human Occupation (MOHO)

  • What drives each person to engage?

  • MOHO-vation

  • What habits, patterns, and routines contribute to this person's identity and competence?

OT & the Outdoors: Services

Childhood & Adolescent Development

The outdoors and nature provide ample opportunities for children and adolescents to have fun while improving their abilities and skills across a spectrum of developmental areas. These opportunities are a way to foster fun & creative play and recreation while applying Occupational Therapy principles and understanding.

Kids Playing Outside


There are endless possibilities in the outdoors & nature to incorporate gross (big) and/or fine (small) motor movements. 

  • Gross motor: Climbing, hiking, running, cycling, swimming, paddling, archery, horseback riding, fishing, obstacle courses, working with animals, gardening, composting

  • Fine motor: Gardening, fishing, making a fire, picking berries, fruit, or veggies, making nature art with rocks, sticks, flowers, plants, etc., 

Image by Annie Spratt


Nature and the outdoors are optimal environments for sensory development:

  • Vestibular (balance & coordination): Rope swings & courses, rock hopping, trail running, bike riding, log walking, rolling down hills, slackline, climbing walls, outdoor obstacle courses

  • Proprioceptive (body awareness & spatial relations): Any HEAVY work- climbing, running, jumping, hiking, swimming, rock wall building, wood splitting & stacking, clearing a trail, uneven surface walking, throwing rocks/sticks

  • Tactile (touch): Walking barefoot, gardening, using dirt, sand, mud, rocks, grass, moss, water to make art, safely handling worms, insects, fish, etc.

  • Auditory: bird sound, animal noises, running water, leaves rustling, rain, wind, thunder, echoes

  • Visual perceptual: I-spy, treasure hunts, using binoculars, looking "up close" at bugs/plants vs "far away," bird watching, archery, reading maps

  • Olfactory (smell): Flowers, trees, dirt/mud, oceans, fish, hay, rain

  • Oral motor: Trail snacks, outdoor meals, vegetables/fruit/herbs from the garden

Kids Blowing Bubbles


Outdoor recreation, activities, play, and camp experiences contribute to:

  • Confidence building, teamwork skills, improved self-esteem & identity

  • Leadership skills, healthy communication, social participation

  • Independence, adventure & exploration skills, peer bonding

OT & the Outdoors: Services

Want to know more?

These OTs work in camp and outdoor settings, further defining the roles of OT and establishing the outdoors as an OT practice area.

OT & the Outdoors: Services
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