Kathy Zackowski, PhD, OTR, MSCS

Photo of Kathy Zackowski, PhD, OTR, MSCS

Kennedy Krieger Institute, Assistant Professor
Departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Neurology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

…on occupational therapy, computer technology, and MS


“Treatment for individuals with MS has evolved considerably over the years. In occupational therapy, one major advance has been the broad use of computer technology to benefit individuals with MS.

“Initially, simple communication boards were used, allowing a client to choose pictures or point to written words when words could not be easily spoken. This has advanced to the use of sophisticated software that can now speak the words for the client, or even paint or draw for the person who doesn’t have the physical ability to do so. Another example of this is voice-recognition software that can type for someone who can talk, but can’t use their hands to write or type.

“Unfortunately, the high cost of some of these advances makes it difficult to provide them to all of our clients. My hope for the future is that we, as occupational therapists, will document as objectively as possible the use of computer technology in our treatments and the functional benefits gained by our patients. The hope is that this will encourage more universal funding for the use of, and further advancement of, computer technology as it relates to helping individuals with MS and others with communication challenges.”

Dr. Kathy Zackowski earned her BS in Occupational Therapy, her MS in Exercise and Sport Science, and her PhD in Movement Science. She worked as a neuro-rehabilitation occupational therapist before pursuing her doctorate, and is now the occupational therapist in the Johns Hopkins MS Center. She is certified as an MS Clinical Specialist and emphasizes that rehabilitation is essential for all individuals with MS. Dr. Zackowski also has a research laboratory and studies the motor-control problems that occur as a result of neurodegenerative disease processes such as MS.
Her long-term goal is to develop more systematic ways to assess and treat disability in individuals with MS.