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California OT Swallowing Assessment, Evaluation, or Intervention

Role of the Occupational Therapist

The role of an occupational therapist in instrumental evaluations is to observe structure and function of the swallowing mechanism in order to assess swallowing capability and determine swallowing interventions. The occupational therapist may not perform the physically invasive components of the instrumental evaluation.

Swallowing assessment, evaluation or intervention may be performed only when an occupational therapist has demonstrated to the Board that he or she has met the post professional education and training requirements established by this section as follows:

Education and Training Requirements

Education: Completion of forty-five (45) contact hours in the following subjects:

    • Anatomy, physiology and neurophysiology of the head and neck with focus on the structure and function of the aerodigestive tract;
    • The effect of pathology on the structures and functions of the aerodigestive tract including medical interventions and nutritional intake methods used with patients with swallowing problems;
    • Interventions used to improve pharyngeal swallowing function.

Training: Completion of 240 hours of supervised on-the-job training, clinical internship or affiliation, which may be paid or voluntary, pertaining to swallowing assessment, evaluation or intervention. An occupational therapist in the process of completing the training requirements of this section may practice swallowing assessment, evaluation or intervention under the supervision of an occupational therapist who has been approved under this article, a speech language pathologist with expertise in this area, or a physician and surgeon.

An occupational therapist may provide only those swallowing assessment, evaluation or intervention services he or she is competent to perform.


16 CCR ยง 4153

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