Goal-directed training: linking theories of treatment to clinical practice for improved functional activities in daily life

Clin Rehabil. 2007 Jan;21(1):47-55. doi: 10.1177/0269215506073494.


Background: Goal-directed training is an activity-based approach to therapy. Meaningful, client-selected goals are used to provide opportunities for problem solving and to indirectly drive the movements required to successfully meet the task demands. This is in contrast to interventions that focus on changing body functions. Here, the principles of goal-directed training will be studied through two case studies with the aim of linking theories of treatment to clinical practice.

Principles illustrated: The approach is based on the dynamic systems motor control theory and occupation-based therapy models, which suggest that movement patterns emerge from the interaction between the person's abilities, environment and the goal. Motor learning principles are applied to structure and schedule practice.

Theory in practice: Four components provide the basis for goal-directed training: (1) selection of a meaningful goal; (2) analysis of baseline performance; (3) intervention/ practice regime; and (4) evaluation of outcome. Two individuals with acquired brain injury practised self-care tasks: eating and tying hair into a ponytail. Intensive training was undertaken over four weeks and the intervention outcome measured using the Goal Attainment Scale.

Conclusions: The positive achievements in the self-care tasks illustrated that theories of motor control and motor learning can be applied to goal-directed training. The examples demonstrated that the approach could be applied to individuals with a range of abilities.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Brain Injuries / psychology
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia, Brain / psychology
  • Hypoxia, Brain / rehabilitation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Rehabilitation / methods