Helene J. Polatajko, PhD, OT Reg(Ont), FCA
Helene J. Polatajko, PhD, OT Reg(Ont), FCA

Helene J. Polatajko, PhD, OT Reg(Ont), FCA


Dr. Polatajko is Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy,  University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, as well as cross appointments in the Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Science,  the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the University of Toronto Neuroscience Program (UTNP). Her research interests are focused on occupation and its enablement. Her specific emphasis on the enablement of children with Developmental Coordination Disorder has led to the development of a new approach to enhancing performance, the Cognitive Orientation to daily Occupational Performance (CO-OP), a cognitive-based treatment approach that enables clients with performance problems to reach their occupational goals.  (Retrieved on August 10, 2015 from http://www.ot.utoronto.ca/faculty/faculty_directory/polatajko_h.asp.)

Dr. Polatajko was the recipient of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, 1992 Muriel Driver Memorial lectureship Award.  From 2004 - 2007, she was the editor of AOTF's research journal, OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health and is now serving on the AOTF Scientific Advisory Council (SAC).  In addition, Dr. Polatajko is currently the editor-in chief of the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy.


Identify three words that others have used to describe you.  
Scholar, generous, visionary.

How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
Dare to ask the important questions, be rigorous in the scholarship and be opened to the data--whether  the findings are popular or not! – Pursue questions that will push forward out understanding - open new doors to improving occupational performance and engagement for all

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Have a passion for your questions – and be open to ANY answer – as long as it is found through solid scholarship – know that the best outcome of any study is the elucidation of the next important question

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?
The neuroscience of meaningful occupational engagement – explicit evidence that occupational engagement is a protective factor!

Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
Helping me stay focused and understand the progression of a truly scholarly career.

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
I don’t really have one – my work (teaching and research) is my favorite occupation.

What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
The most surprising is the impact my work has had – the most rewarding is seeing my work improve the lives of children


Polatajko, HJ. (1992). 1992 Muriel Driver Lecture: Naming and framing occupational therapy: a lecture dedicated to the life of Nancy B. The Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 59, 189-200.

Cantin, N, Ryan, J & Polatajko, HJ.  (2014). Impact of task difficulty and motor ability on visual-motor task performance of children with and without developmental coordination disorder. Human Movement Science, 34, 217-232.

Dawson, DR, Binns, MA, Hunt, A, Lemsky, C & Polatajko, HJ.  (12013). Occupation-based strategy training for adults with traumatic brain injury: a pilot study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 94, 1959-1963.

Ng, EM, Polatajko, HJ, Marziali, E, Hunt, A & Dawson DR.  (2013). Telerehabilitation for addressing executive dysfunction after traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, 27, 548-564.

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