Academy of Research

Catherine Trombly Latham, ScD, OT(retired), FAOTA

Dr. Trombly Latham is Professor Emerita, Department of Occupational Therapy, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts. She is author and editor of the well-known textbook, Occupational Therapy for Physical Dysfunction, now in its 7th edition. In 1994, Dr. Trombly Latham was recipient of the American Occupational Therapy Association's Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship. When inducted into the Academy of Research, Dr. Trombly Latham's research contributions were described as follows:

Catherine Trombly has been named a Charter Member of the Academy of Research in recognition of her sustained and exemplary contributions to our understanding of clinical approaches to neurorehabilitation, particularly following cerebral vascular accident. [Dr.] Trombly is perhaps best known for her well-documented and definitive textbook, Occupational Therapy for Physical Dysfunction. However, her clinical research efforts, spanning two decades, have included a broad spectrum of studies focusing principally on rehabilitation of the hand. She is one of the few occupational therapists who hold membership in societies for both behavioral and electrophysiological kinesiology. Accordingly, a number of her studies have included electromyographic analyses of hand musculature during and following activity, exercise, and positioning. (1984, pp. 621-622).

Dr. Trombly Latham was named one of the 100 Influential People in Occupational Therapy by AOTA. 

Q and A

Identify two words that others have used to describe you.
Thorough, Knowledgeable.

How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
I am retired now, but my hope was to validate the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions used in the treatment of persons with neurological disabilities, especially stroke. I made a start at it while in active service and am thrilled that several of my students continue to do so. I also hoped to make a difference in the practice of occupational therapy for persons with physical dysfunction by organizing knowledge, with evidence to support where available, into a textbook from which students would learn and practitioners could refer; I just completed active involvement in the 7th edition of Occupational Therapy for Physical Dysfunction.

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Enter into a good mentoring situation; do a post doc if possible.

Beside your own areas of inquiry, what is one research priority that you believe is important for the future of occupational science and occupational therapy?
Translation of research findings into practice.

Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
My professional journey started before research was a part of OT or research mentorship was even thought of. I had no real mentor. However, I learned a lot from the first physiatrist I worked for who insisted that we actively engage in a monthly journal club that he attended and asked piercing questions. He also included me in his research team and encouraged my early attempts at research and graduate education. We were expected to publish.

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
Gardening, reading mysteries, genealogy, knitting & crocheting.

What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
It has been rewarding to demonstrate what effects do or do not occur secondary to certain interventions. It is very rewarding to see OT establish its scientific base and that the science supports the underlying philosophy of OT for the most part.


_________. (1984). The American Occupational Therapy Foundation Awards-1984. American Journal of
Occupational Therapy, 38,

Radomski, MV & Latham, C.AT. (2014). Occupational therapy for physical dysfunction. (7th Ed.) Philadelphia,
PA: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Co.

Trombly, CA. (1995). Occupation: purposefulness and meaningfulness as therapeuticmechanisms. 1995
Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 49, 960-972.

Trombly, C. A., & Ma, H. I. (2002). A synthesis of the effects of occupational therapy for persons with stroke, Part
I: Restoration of roles, tasks, and activities. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 56(3), 250-259.

Ma, H. I., & Trombly, C. A. (2002). A synthesis of the effects of occupational therapy for persons with stroke, part
II: remediation of impairments. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 56(3), 260-274.

Wu, CY, Trombly, CA, Lin, KC, & Tickle-Degnen, L. (2000). A kinematic study of contextual effects on reaching
performance in persons with and without stroke: Influences of object availability. Archives of Physical Medicine
and Rehabilitation, 81,

Trombly, C. A., Radomski, M. V., Trexel, C., & Burnett-Smith, S. E. (2002). Occupational therapy and
achievement of self-identified goals by adults with acquired brain injury: Phase II. American Journal of
Occupational Therapy, 56(5),


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