Common Occupational Therapy Assessments: A Comprehensive Guide

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Common Occupational Therapy Assessments: A Comprehensive Guide

Occupational therapy (OT) assessments are the backbone of our practice. They guide our understanding of client needs, inform our intervention plans, and track progress over time. 

Whether you’re a seasoned occupational therapist or new to the field, staying abreast of common assessments is vital to honing your skills and providing the most effective care. 

Let’s delve into a comprehensive guide to some of the most frequently used tools in our OT arsenal.

What are occupational therapy assessments?

Occupational therapy assessments are specific tools and methods occupational therapists use to evaluate a client’s occupational performance. 

They help the therapist gain a comprehensive understanding of the client’s strengths, challenges, and overall ability to engage in meaningful activities and participate in daily life. These assessments do more than just quantify a client’s abilities. They:

  • Uncover client strengths and challenges: Pinpoint specific areas where a client excels and where they may face difficulties.
  • Drive client-centered goals: Facilitate collaborative goal-setting that aligns with a client’s values and priorities.
  • Track progress: Measure changes in function and participation over time, demonstrating the effectiveness of OT interventions.
  • Guide evidence-based practice: Provide data to support clinical decision-making and the selection of appropriate interventions.

Occupational therapists across various settings utilize assessments, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, community clinics, and private practices. They work with clients of all ages, from infants to older adults, with diverse needs and conditions.

What are the most common occupational therapy assessments?

Here are some essential assessments that should be in your toolkit as an occupational therapist.

  1. Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM)

The Canadian Occupational Performance Measure is a client-centered assessment tool that occupational therapists use to evaluate a client’s self-perception of their occupational performance in everyday living. 

It’s a semi-structured interview that guides clients through a process of identifying and prioritizing the activities that are most important to them, as well as rating their level of performance and satisfaction with those activities.

  1. Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS)

AMPS goes beyond assessing motor skills alone. It evaluates a client’s motor and process skills (e.g., organization, problem-solving) during daily activities, providing valuable insights into their functional abilities.

AMPS is a powerful tool for occupational therapists working with clients with a wide range of conditions, including neurological disorders, physical disabilities, developmental delays, and cognitive impairments.

  1. Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT)

The Sensory Integration and Praxis Test is a standardized assessment tool used by occupational therapists to evaluate sensory integration and praxis (motor planning) in children between the ages of 4 and 8 years old. 

It provides valuable insights into how a child’s nervous system processes sensory information and how this processing impacts their motor coordination, learning, and behavior. The SIPT consists of 17 subtests grouped into four main categories:

  • Sensory processing tests assess how a child detects, discriminates, and interprets sensory information from their body and the environment.
  • Sensor reactivity tests assess a child’s behavioral responses to sensory input.
  • Praxis tests assess a child’s ability to plan and execute motor actions.
  • Additional tests assess specific sensory or motor skills
  1. Functional Independence Measure

Widely used in rehabilitation settings, FIM measures a client’s level of assistance needed to perform essential activities of daily living (ADLs). It aids in tracking progress and determining discharge planning.

  1. Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (PDMS-2)

This standardized assessment tool is used by occupational therapists, physical therapists, and other professionals to evaluate the gross and fine motor skills of children from birth through age 5. It provides a comprehensive overview of a child’s motor development and can be used to identify delays, track progress, and inform intervention planning.

The Peabody Developmental Motor Scales is a valuable tool for understanding and supporting children’s motor development. Identifying strengths and challenges enables therapists and educators to design effective interventions that help children reach their full potential.

  1. The Kohlman Evaluation of Living Skills (KELS)

This is a standardized assessment tool occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals use to evaluate a person’s ability to perform basic living skills essential for independent living. 

It focuses on practical skills required for self-care, safety, health management, money management, community mobility, and communication.

  1. Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA)

This brief, standardized screening tool is used to detect mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early signs of dementia in adults. It assesses various cognitive domains, including 

  • Attention
  • Concentration
  • Executive functions
  • Memory
  • Language
  • Visuoconstructional skills
  • Conceptual thinking
  • Calculations and orientation.
  1. Executive Function Performance Test (EFPT)

This is a top-down, performance-based assessment tool occupational therapists use to evaluate a person’s executive function skills in everyday activities. 

It’s designed to identify impairments in executive functions, determine an individual’s capacity for independent living, and determine the type and amount of assistance needed for task completion.

Mastering the Art of Occupational and Hand Therapy with Expert Mentorship

As occupational therapists, assessments are invaluable in understanding our clients’ needs. However, true mastery of our profession, especially in specialized areas like hand therapy, goes beyond these foundational assessments. 

It involves a deep understanding of intricate hand anatomy, complex conditions, and evidence-based interventions. This is where mentorship becomes essential.

Hoang Tran, a board-certified occupational therapist and certified hand therapist, understands the challenges and rewards of this specialized field. 

That’s why she’s created a comprehensive mentorship program designed to guide aspiring hand therapists toward achieving their CHT certification and becoming confident, skilled practitioners.

Visit our website today to learn more about how to become a certified hand therapist.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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Hoang Tran

“I help Occupational Therapists develop their skills and grow their confidence in Hand Therapy. No matter where you are on your journey, build a happy and fulfilling career of your dreams. I’ll help you.”