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Janet Njelesani

Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy


Janet Njelesani, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA is an Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy. Dr. Njelesani is an occupational therapist with a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science and Global Health from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Njelesani's program of research is centered on two interrelated lines of inquiry. (1) To foreground the school violence experiences of children with disabilities living in sub-Saharan Africa and how communities are responding and, (2) to understand how the field of occupational therapy can address disability-based violence. The two lines of inquiry are complemented by the methodological work she carries out that develops culturally attuned approaches to qualitative research.

Her emphasis on the relationships among local, regional, national, and international forces and factors that influence participation in occupations led to the development of a new qualitative methodology, a critical occupational approach, which can guide critical approaches to occupational therapy research and practice locally and internationally.

She has carried out her work in North America, South East Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, West Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa, collaborating with researchers from each of these regions.

To her research, Dr. Njelesani brings a breadth of both clinical and consulting expertise, having worked as a clinician for over 15 years and through her role providing disability and rehabilitation technical advice to Governments, United Nations agencies, and international non-governmental organizations.

Dr. Njelesani has published and presented widely in her areas of research. She has also contributed to seminal international publications, including the WHO World Report on Disability and UNICEF's A rights-based approach to inclusive education for children with disabilities.

Dr. Njelesani teaches undergraduate, professional, and post-professional courses on research, knowledge mobilization, advanced assessment, foundations of occupational therapy, wellness, and evidence-based practice.

Selected Publications

  • Njelesani, J.,  Si, J., & Swarm, D. (2022).  Unreported and unaddressed: Students with disabilities experience of school violence in Zambia. African Journal of Disability, 1-7.
  • Njelesani, J.,  Faulkner, A., Schultz, B., & Jeon, H. (2022).  A call to the front: Occupational therapy practice in addressing school bullying. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 1-6.
  • Njelesani, J., Mlambo, V., Denekew, T., & Hunleth, J. (2022). Inclusion of children with disabilities in qualitative health research: A scoping review. PloS ONE, 17(9), e0273784.
  • Sterman, J., Njelesani, J., & Carr, S. (2022). Anti-racism and occupational therapy education: Beyond diversity and inclusion. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 6(1), 1-22. jote.2022.060103
  • Hunleth, J. M., Spray, J. S., Meehan, C., Lang, C. W., & Njelesani, J. (2022). What is the state of children’s participation in qualitative research on health interventions?: A scoping study. BMC Pediatrics, 22(1), 1-13.
  • Durocher, E., Njelesani, J., & Crosby, E. (2022). Art activities in long-term care: A scoping review. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 1-8.
  • Njelesani, J., Lai, J., Gigante, C. M., & Trelles, J. (2022). Will you protect me or make the situation worse?: Teachers’ responses to school violence against students with disabilities. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1-26.
  • Njelesani, J.,  Teachman, G. & Bangura, I. (2021).  “The strength to leave”: Women with disabilities navigating violent relationships and occupational identities. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 75, 1–13.
  • Cappa, C., Njelesani, J., Maladwala, A. & Neil, N. (2021). Measuring environmental factors and school participation for children with disabilities. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 1-16.
  • Sterman, J., & Njelesani, J. (2021). Becoming anti-racist occupational therapy practitioners: A scoping study. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 41(4), 232–242.
  • Stern, B.Z., Njelesani, J., & Howe, T-H. (2021). Transitioning from hurting to healing: Self-management after distal radius fracture. Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-10.
  • Stern, B.Z., Howe, T-H., & Njelesani, J. (2021). “I didn’t know what I could do”: Behaviors, knowledge and beliefs, and social facilitation after distal radius fracture. Journal of Hand Therapy, 1-9.
  • Njelesani, J., Attard, K., Duimstra, A., & Zenderman, N. (2020). Addressing school bullying with a multi-tiered system of support approach. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention, 1-16. doi:10.1080/19411243.2020.1852466
  • Ngulube, J., Njelesani, D., & Njelesani, J. (2020).  Implementation of inclusive education policy in secondary schools in Zambia. Zambia Interdisciplinary Journal of Education, 1(1), 1-29.
  • Njelesani, J. & Hunleth, J. (2020). Youth participatory research evidence to inform health policy: A systematic review protocol. BMJ Open, 10(8), e036522. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2019-036522
  • Njelesani, J. (2020). Measuring the participation of children with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.14637
  • Njelesani, J., Pontes T., & Davis J. (2020). Occupational Repertoire Development Measure-Parent (ORDM-P): Face validity and clinical utility. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 83(5), 326-333. doi: 10.1177/0308022619885247
  • Pontes, T. B., Alves, A. T., Celeste, L. C., Bernardo, L. D., Queiroz, A. G., Poletto, M., & Njelesani, J. (2019). Academic mothers: Balancing the roles of parent and researcher. Brazilian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 27(4), 687-690. doi: 10.4322/2526-8910.ctoED2704
  • Njelesani J. (2019). “A child who is hidden has no rights”: Responses to violence against children with disabilities. Child Abuse & Neglect, 89:58-69. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.12.024
  • Njelesani J., Siegel, J., & Ullrich, E. (2018). Realization of the rights of persons with disabilities in Rwanda. PLOS One13(5), e0196347. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196347
  • Njelesani J., & Njelesani, D.(2018). Addressing HIV/AIDS in school in Zambia through traditional games. AIDS Care, 1-3. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2018.1476660
  • Njelesani J., Hashemi, G., Cameron, C., Cameron, D., Richard, D., & Parnes, P. (2018). From the day they are born: A qualitative study exploring violence against children with disabilities in West Africa. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 153.doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5057-x
  • Dean L., Mulamba, C., Njelesani J., Mbabazi, P.& Bates I. (2018).Establishing an international laboratory network for neglected tropical diseases: Understanding existing capacity in five WHO regions.F1000Research, 7, 1464. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.16196.1
  • Hui N.,Vickery E., Njelesani J., & Cameron D. (2017). Gendered experiences of inclusive education for children with disabilities in West and East Africa. International Journal of Inclusive Educationdoi: 10.1080/13603116.2017.1370740
  • Njelesani J., Fehlings L., Tsang A., Polatajko H. (2016). The influence of context on occupational selection in sport-for-development programming. Societies; 6(3), 24; doi: 10.3390/soc6030024
  • Njelesani, J. (2016). Rethinking rehabilitation: Theory and practice book review. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy; doi: 10.1177/0008417416651962


Occupational Therapy

NYU Steinhardt’s occupational therapy program educates both aspiring OTs and credentialed professionals looking to further develop their practices.

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Foundations of Occupational Therapy

This course orients students to the profession of occupational therapy and its historical and philosophical development. The course examines activities and occupations in the contest in which humans engage and participate in them. Tools of practice, service delivery models, practice settings, and current issues that influence the profession are also examined. Concepts in this foundational course are taught via lecture, discussion, field experiences and lab practica.
Course #
OT-GE 2701
Occupational Therapy