Project Director

Spratt, Henry G.

Department Examiner

Giles, David K.; McDonald, Susan S.


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


An increasing concern of the healthcare system has been that of Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs). HAIs currently account for approximately 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths per year in United States hospitals. HAI’s (formerly called nosocomial infections) are defined as infections that develop in patients who have been in residence in a healthcare facility (i.e., in-patient clinics) for 48 hours or longer and who previously had no evidence of infection prior to admission. Consequences of HAIs include increased length of hospital stay, exposure to high frequency antibiotics, sepsis, and in unfortunate cases, death. In out-patient environments where patients are receiving rehabilitative care, such as OT, they are often benefiting from the use of readily available therapy instruments. Instruments used in the outpatient setting are often shared between numerous patients, hopefully being disinfected between uses with disinfectant wipes. Although these rehabilitative instruments should be disinfected between uses, it is unknown to what extent bacteria may survive with or without proper disinfection. The objective of this study is to help provide baseline statistics for the potential of bacterial survivability in multiple places on reachers and sock aids, both of which are common OT instruments. The study focused on the survivability of three bacterial species: Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus cereus, all of which are frequent pathogens associated with HAIs in clinical settings. After application of known quantities of these bacteria to the devices, surviving cells were enumerated as long as 48 hours after inoculation. Data generated here should help establish the need for more focused disinfection protocols for these OT devices.


First and foremost, I would like to extend my biggest of ‘thank yous’ to Dr. Henry Spratt Jr., PhD for his guidance, mentorship, and patience with me as I completed this study. This project would have been impossible without his vast knowledge and enthusiasm to teach. I am so appreciative of him and his willingness to take me under his wing. I would also like to extend a thank you to Dr. Susan McDonald of the Occupational Therapy program for her contribution of the OT devices used in this study and my laboratory neighbor, Dr. David Giles, for his guidance during stressful moments several times throughout the semester. Additionally, a special thank you should be given to Dr. David Levine for his expertise in data analysis and his willingness to help me analyze nine tables of data. This study also could not have been completed without the support of my friends and family. Thank you to Seth Larue for his support and help in preparing media and performing necessary lab maintenance throughout the summer. To Mia and Carter, thank you for being my backbone, encouraging me when I needed it most, and always listening to me talk about bacteria. My dearest family- I love you, I love you, I love you. Thank you for being my biggest supporters.


B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Occupational therapy--equipment and supplies; Pathogenic bacteria


Microbiology; bacterial survivability; Hospital Acquired Infection; Occupational Therapy


Equipment and Supplies

Document Type



50 leaves