Sarah Zera, OTR/L

Assistant Professor
Downers Grove, IL

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Sarah Zera completed her baccalaureate degree in occupational therapy at Eastern Michigan University in 2001. She completed her doctorate of occupational therapy in 2018. She has more than 16 years of experience working primarily with adults affected by neurologic impairments. She began her career in skilled nursing where she became interested in the neurologically involved populations. She has worked for the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) for the past 10 years and has had the opportunity to work throughout the system including day rehab, outpatient, and inpatient.

Sarah’s doctoral work focused on translating evidence into practice while implementing cognitive strategy training techniques in a group setting. She has worked on similar projects incorporating self-management strategy groups in the day rehab setting and in the community. Sarah has presented for the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab within the internal and external academy as well as in a webinar setting. Topics have included edema in the stroke population, metacognitive strategy use for clients with executive function deficits, and occupation based assessments.

Sarah started her career with Midwestern University in June of 2018. She enjoys sharing her years of experience treating adults with MWU students, particularly in lab and practicum experiences.

Assistant Professor

Downers Grove, IL

College of Health Sciences - IL

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy

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University of Illinois at Chicago | 2018 | O.T.D.
Eastern Michigan University | 2001 | B.S.

Courses Taught

2019                      OT Practice: Adults, 4 credits, Summer (co-taught)

                              Self-Management, 2 credits, Summer

                              OT Practice: Adults, 4 credits, Fall (co-taught)

                              OT Process Foundations, 2 credits, Winter


Engagement in occupational performance as a basic human need is a foundational tenet of occupational therapy however despite participation in traditional rehabilitation many people affected by acquired brain injury (ABI) such as stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI) do not return to their previous occupations. Cognition has been found to be a primary predictor of participation after stroke and TBI. Metacognitive strategy training has emerged as an effective approach to increase participation in clients affected by ABI. My work seeks to translate evidence based interventions into clinical practice.

Research projects

Within the day rehabilitation setting implementing metacognitive strategy training can be challenging for occupational therapists due to the group structure within the setting. The purpose of this project is to implement a metacognitive strategy training group for adults within the day rehabilitation setting and assess its feasibility.  The integration of a metacognitive strategy training group into the occupational therapy program will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of occupational therapy services.


Peer-reviewed Publications:

Lee, D., Fischer, H., Zera, S., Robertson, R., & Hammel, J. (2017). Examining a participation-focused stroke self-management intervention in a day rehabilitation setting: A quasi-experimental pilot study. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, 24(8), 601.

Other Publications

Fischer, H., Zera, S., Robertson, R., Lee, D., Hammel, J. (2018). Implementing research into everyday occupational therapy practice: the IPASS-R program. SIS Quarterly Practice Connections. 3 (3), 26 – 28

Zera, S. (2015). National disabled veterans winter sports clinic. Illinois Occupational Therapy Association Communique Newsletter, (2), 1, 10-11



American Occupational Therapy Association 

Illinois Occupational Therapy Association 


Zera, S. (2019) Research facilitation grant. Midwestern University. Downers Grove, IL. 


2018                      Midwestern University Occupational Therapy Program Fieldwork Educator Award