Your healthcare provider may refer you to occupational therapy to address particular medical problems or needs. During your initial visit, you will be expected to complete a patient questionnaire that allows you to provide information about your problem(s), how the problem(s) affect you in your daily activities and what your expectations are as a result of going through occupational therapy. Following the review of your condition, an evaluation is performed to help identify problem area(s) and to formulate a rehabilitation plan of care. The following may be assessed during the occupational therapist’s evaluation: arm strength, range of motion, coordination, muscle tone, cognition, vision, functional mobility, and performance during activities of daily living.
Strength is a measure of the ability to exert force. If a particular medical condition exists that affects how the muscle functions, the ability to exert force is compromised and the ability to use the extremity is affected.
Range of motion is a measure of the ability of the joints to move through their full range of motion. If there are limitations to range, the ability to move and exert force efficiently will be adversely affected.
Coordination is measured by the arm or hand’s ability to move smoothly through motions to produce gross or fine dexterity movements. If movements are slow, tremulous, or awkward, it can affect the ability to use the arm or hand during daily tasks, such as handwriting.
Muscle tone refers to the tautness or laxity of muscle tissue. Too much tone will not allow full mobility. This may be a result of a particular medical condition (for example, stroke or MS). Too little tone leads to instability. Either problem produces difficulties in using the extremity.
Cognition refers to memory, attention, and problem solving/executive functioning. Difficulties in these areas may affect a person’s ability to live independently, return to work, and function safely in their environments.
Vision assessments encompass multiple aspects, including the testing of visual fields/awareness, visual processing, perception, visual motor skills, and eye/hand coordination. Certain medical conditions (for example, stroke or MS) can affect the connections between the brain and the eye and result in difficulties interpreting visual information correctly.
Functional Mobility is the ability to move self around in order to perform functional activities (for example, to/from toilet or around kitchen). This requires strength, endurance, and balance.
Activities of daily living (ADLs) include managing self-care tasks (feeding, grooming, toileting, dressing, bathing), meal preparation, household tasks, medications, money, community activities, and working. Difficulties performing these activities can be due to any of the limitations noted above, in addition to fatigue or pain. Observing a patient performing the tasks can assist the therapist in identifying the problem area and developing a treatment plan to improve safety and independence with ADLs.