What Is an Occupational Therapy Evaluation?

P.S. Jones

An occupational therapy evaluation is a test given by an occupational therapist in an effort to determine how an illness, disability, or injury is affecting a patient’s ability to work, play, or care for himself. These evaluations are used to assess many different skills, including visual perception or tracking. The occupational therapist is also evaluating strength, range of motion and balance.

Occupational therapy is often used to help children with developmental disabilities or delays to improve their ability to move their bodies.
Occupational therapy is often used to help children with developmental disabilities or delays to improve their ability to move their bodies.

Preparing for this evaluation is relatively simple. Arrive on time to the evaluation location to ensure the therapist can complete the evaluation in a timely manner. Wear loose fitting clothing for comfort and ease of movement. The therapist may ask to see certain body parts while they are in motion. There is usually no need to limit food or drink intake before the evaluation, and the patient can remain active right up until the evaluation is performed.

An evaluation may be used to test a child's motor skill development before occupational therapy begins.
An evaluation may be used to test a child's motor skill development before occupational therapy begins.

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During the occupational therapy evaluation, the therapist will ask the patient to perform a variety of movements and assume several positions. These movements and positions are based on those that would be performed in the patient’s normal routine at work or at home. For example, the therapist may ask the patient to sit in a position that mimics driving or to move as if he is reaching for something on a high shelf.

An occupational therapy evaluation is used to determine how an illness is affecting a patient's ability to care for himself.
An occupational therapy evaluation is used to determine how an illness is affecting a patient's ability to care for himself.

Some tests may be done in the course of an occupational therapy evaluation. How the patient approaches and completes specific developmental tasks may be tested with the Functional Neuro-Assessment test. The Visual Motor Inventory (VMI) looks for difficulties that the patient may have coordinating finger and hand movements. The Wide Range Assessment of Visual Motor Abilities tests the patient’s combination of visual motor and perceptual development. Standardized occupational therapy tests can be done during the evaluation but the therapist may also veer off from these tests.

Children on the autism spectrum are believed to benefit from occupational therapy.
Children on the autism spectrum are believed to benefit from occupational therapy.

Although an occupational therapy evaluation may be done on patients of any age, a large percentage is done on children. Occupational therapy is often recommended for children with developmental delays, and an occupation therapy evaluation is the first step. Through occupational therapy, the child can increase endurance, strength, or range of motion. Other skills that can be improved are fine motor skills or hand-eye coordination. Even social skills may be improved through occupational therapy.

Occupational therapy can be used to improve fine motor skills.
Occupational therapy can be used to improve fine motor skills.
An occupational therapy evaluation may involve various stretching activities to test a patient's muscle strength and range of motion.
An occupational therapy evaluation may involve various stretching activities to test a patient's muscle strength and range of motion.
Occupational therapy is often recommended for children with developmental delays.
Occupational therapy is often recommended for children with developmental delays.
Occupation therapy can improve hand-eye coordination.
Occupation therapy can improve hand-eye coordination.
An occupational therapy assessment begins when a physician evaluates a patient and determines the need for an occupational rehabilitational program.
An occupational therapy assessment begins when a physician evaluates a patient and determines the need for an occupational rehabilitational program.

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Discussion Comments

mohawkninja
@Jewellian - My daughter received a slight concussion during a basketball game, and was seen the next day, by a chiropractor. She was eighteen and went to the doctor alone that day, following up on where the school's sport's physical therapist sent her.

The chiropractor manipulated her neck, and back, because my daughter indicated that she was in pain. This was a mistake, that could have had lasting and negative effects. When I heard this, I went with her to the next day, and was told, she would have to have an MRI. In my estimation, an MRI, should have been performed before the chiropractor manipulated her neck. She did have a concussion.

She should not have seen a chiropractor, though I understand they have a medical license. She should have gone right away to a general practitioner, who would have ordered an MRI/Catscan, before sending her to physical therapy. You are right-there is an order to these things. This is meant as no disrespect toward chiropractors. The school should not have sent her there first.

Jewellian

Occupational therapy is sometimes in order, following an injury. Parents should be very cautious about their child receiving therapy following a sports injury, for instance. There is an order to observe. If your child is injured while playing sports, or has an accident that causes injury, especially to his neck or head, avoid occupational therapy until the child is evaluated by his physician; a general practitioner or in an emergency room. Movement of the head and neck, could exacerbate the injury. Occupational Therapy should be ordered or prescribed.

voordal

Wow, social skills can be improved through occupational therapy. I would never have thought that was true. The two do not seem to go together. I learned something.

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