The Hands on Assessment

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One of the first steps in the prescription of a wheelchair for a client, after the interview and information gathering, is the hands on assessment.  The hands on assessment is crucial as it provides key information necessary for matching client needs with product parameters.

What should the hands on assessment include?

  • Observation of the client in his/her existing equipment, if applicable
  • A full mat evaluation in both supine and sitting, completed on a firm surface.

The hands on assessment allows the therapist to determine a multitude of information about the client, including: sitting posture; range of motion; muscle strength; tone; skin integrity; balance; and endurance. This assessment provides information regarding the presence or absence of pelvic obliquity, pelvic rotation, anterior pelvic tilt, and posterior pelvic tilt, and whether these postures are fixed or flexible. In addition, the hands on assessment provides information as to how much trunk support is required by your client and whether or not lateral support is needed.

Click on the following links for a videos that I found on You Tube that provide the “how to” for a mat evaluation completed in supine: and in sitting: The lengths of the videos are 6 minutes and 5 minutes, respectively.

As always, please provide your comments, questions and suggestions regarding Clinical Corner on my blog. I look forward to hearing from you!

Warm regards,

Sheilagh Sherman, BA, BHScOT, OT Reg. (Ont.)
Clinical Educator
Sunrise Medical Canada

Note: The content of this article is not meant to be prescriptive; rather, it is meant as a general resource for clinicians to then use clinical reasoning skills to determine optimal seating and mobility solutions for individual clients. Sheilagh is unable to answer questions from members of the general public. Members of the general public are directed to their own therapists or other health care professionals to ask questions regarding seating and mobility needs.

This article is © Sunrise Medical, Inc., 2011

Sheilagh Sherman,
BA, BHScOT, MHM, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Sheilagh joined Sunrise Medical Canada in 2010 as our full-time Clinical Educator. Prior to joining Sunrise, Sheilagh gained extensive clinical experience from working in a variety of settings, including in-patient rehabilitation, complex continuing care, and community rehabilitation. As Clinical Educator, Sheilagh is a clinical resource for therapists across Canada involved in seating and mobility. She teaches in-services and leads workshops and seminars on the clinical aspects of seating and mobility. In addition, Sheilagh hosts monthly webinars for therapists and vendors.

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