NIH Clinical Center Senior Staff

Bonnie C. Hodsdon OTR/L


Ms. Hodsdon joined the staff of the Clinical Center in 1974. She is a retired captain in the U.S. Public Health Service and has been chief of the Rehabilitation Medicine Department's Occupational Therapy Section since 1995. She is a long-term specialist in the clinical care of people with arthritis, and an associate investigator in multiple research protocols involving focal hand dystonia, women's health, and congenital muscular dystrophy.

Her early research focused on the effects of orthotics on hand-joint deformity. She developed the NIH training curriculum for understanding the role of occupational therapy in rehabilitation and the critical elements for timely referrals for rheumatology fellows of Georgetown University, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and Johns Hopkins University. She also developed the format for the NIH Clinical Center's Upper Extremity Clinic, which served all NIH institutes, and then managed the clinic's administrative and clinical program, including coordination of services between orthopedic surgeons and NIH rheumatologists. She was a former member of the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals where she helped produce an online learning seminar to understand the role of occupational therapy in rehab rheumatology care.

Ms. Hodsdon introduced neurodevelopmental treatment concepts to the Rehabilitation Medicine Department to support the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Child Health and Human Development Institute and coordinated collaborative work between occupational and physical therapy in combining biomechanical and neurodevelopmental concepts. She and her staff are currently involved in advancing the field of occupational therapy through research that focuses on Women's Health Initiatives and understanding the functional effects of rare or undiagnosed diseases.

She independently developed a hand rehabilitation management program, which focused on the pathomechanics of arthritis and neuromuscular disease. To date, more than 1,000 patients have been treated, helping the staff to evolve innovations for orthotics, treatment assessments and research. At NIH, Ms. Hodsdon is a board member for the credentialing of new staff therapists in the Rehabilitation Medicine Department and a board member of the Peer Resolution Panel available to evaluate disparate issues involving staff and administration. Ms. Hodsdon is also a member of the task force for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy to determine national policy for competency renewal.

As a consultant to the institutes, Ms. Hodsdon designed the following inventions: a finger orthotic (commercially available) to control joint stability; a now patented hand device that protects the hand from accidental needle sticks; a device to hold a computerized sensor that measures pruritus responses in patients with chronic liver dysfunction (used by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases); a hand and forearm stabilizer that allows for collection of repeated x-ray data using subtraction radiology (used by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research); and a device to prevent leakage from an external condom catheter. She currently designs custom finger and hand orthotics for people with writer's cramp and musician's dystonia.

Honors and Awards

Clinical Center Director's Award for dedication to improving the quality, efficiency, and transparency of work at the Clinical Center, 2009; Therapist of the Year Award for leadership and contributions to public health, Commissioned Officers Association, 2006; USPHS Commendation Medal Award, 2001 (also 1990, 1982); Quality of Work Life Award, NIH, 1997; National Achievement Award, American Occupational Therapy Association, 1997; USPHS Unit Commendation Ribbon, 1991; Community Service Award for Outstanding Leadership, Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area, 1978

Selected Publications


Gerber L, Hicks J, Klaiman M, and Thornton B, et al. Rehabilitation in the Management of Cancer: Preserving and Restoring Function; DeVita V, Hellman S, and Rosenberg S (eds). Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1997; 2925-2956.


Hodsdon B, Robertson S, Lin S. From Clinician to Researcher: Integrating Research Into Clinical Practice: In: The American Occupational Therapy Association 93 Annual Conference and Expo. April 24-28, 2013; San Diego, CA: WS 103. (referenced abstract/sponsored workshop)

Covington SN, Hillard PJ, Sterling EW, Nelson LM, Hodsdon BC, A Family Systems Approach to Primary Ovarian Insufficiency. Pediatric Adolescent Gynecology. 2011; 1-5.

Robertson S, Swan LC, Comis LE, Hodsdon B, Parks R, Nelson L. (2011). An occupational therapy approach to primary ovarian insufficiency. Journal of Women's Health, 20(3), 496.

Thornton B. et al. All Work and No Play; Online Curriculum Case. Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals, October 2004.

Zeuner, K, Shill, Holly, Sohn Y, Molloy F, Thornton B, Dambrosia J, Hallett M. Motor Training as Treatment in Focal Hand Dystonia. Movement Disorders 2004; 20:3, 335-341.

Gardner, S, Thornton, B. Prescribing Assistive Devices for Patients with RA. Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine 2002; 27-36.

Adams E, Pucino F, Yarboro C, Hicks J, Thornton B, McGarvey C, Sonies B, Bartlett M, Villalba L, Fleisher T, Plotz P. A Pilot Study: Use of Fludarabine for Refractory Dermatomyositis and Polymyositis, and Examination of Endpoint Measures. Journal of Rheumatology 1999; 26:2,352-360.

Villalba L, Hicks J, Adams E, Sherman J, Gourley M, Leff R, and Thornton B, et al. Treatment of Refractory Myositis: A Randomized Crossover Study of Two New Cytotoxic Regimens; Arthritis and Rheumatism 1998; 41:392-399.

Thornton B, Egan M, Parks B, Hicks, J, Vargo M. Rehabilitation Treatment of Inclusion Body Myositis. Fall issue of the IBMA, Inc. Newsletter, 1994, Harrisonburg, Va. (Patient Educ. Pamphlet)

Bolander M, Gardiner J, Coyle J, Joyce M, Himmel H, Thornton B, Ruttimann U. Detection and Measurement of Simulated Early Rheumatoid Lesions of the Hand During Digital Subtraction Radiography. Invest Radiol; 1990; 25:708-13.

Gerber L, Furst G, Shulman B, Smith C, Thornton B, Liang M, Cullen K, Stevens MB, Gilbert N. Patient Education to Teach Energy Conservation Behaviors to Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Pilot Study. Arch Phys Med Rehabilitation 1987; 68:442-5.

Thornton BC. Joint Protection and Energy Conservation for Arthritis. The 1978 Summer Issue of the Forum Newsletter, Washington Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, Washington, D.C. (Educ. Article)

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