Measuring Up to be a True OT!

Goniometry and MMT
These are the manual muscle tests (left) and goniometry measures (right) I had to know for my practical today!

Hello there! It’s been an exciting past couple of weeks, in which I’ve had time for travel, bonfires, sweaters, and essay-writing, but not a lot of time for blogging.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already December, and I’m almost done with my first semester of OT school! Around this time just one year ago, I turned in the application that would eventually lead me to the graduate OT program of my dreams – although of course I was just busy being super stressed and didn’t know that at the time. To any readers who are going through the same thing right now, just know that there is light at the end of the tunnel! Finish up those applications, click “Submit” and get ready to enjoy the holiday season without the stress of grad school apps looming over your head. J

For the past few weeks, my classmates and I have been learning how to do goniometry and manual muscle testing, which has been a somewhat arduous process. Learning how to hold the goniometer, grade muscle movements, and identify the muscles that produce various actions is a little bit tedious, so I’m excited for the future classes I’ll be taking when I can combine this more clinical knowledge with actual human occupations! All in good time, though.

Earlier today I completed my individual manual muscle testing and goniometry exam, which actually wasn’t too bad! My program here did this a little differently than other programs might, but I also attended classes for one day at a different program when I was visiting graduate programs and the process wasn’t actually all that different.

In my program, the scheduling got a bit hairy around our exam day so we ended up doing the testing a little bit differently this year. For my class, our professor put us into small groups and informed us that each group member would be responsible for knowing how to perform all of the types of shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand measurements and tests we discussed in class. However, before each of us went into the testing scenario, each group drew several different types of tests out of a bowl and we were given about 25 minutes to practice and review the testing protocols for each test as a group. When time was up, each person went into the testing room alone and had to perform a goniometry measurement and manual muscle test on a client.

I was a little bit intimidated by the whole thing going in, but being able to practice with group members and measure movement on different bodies was very helpful! I highly recommend practicing with a classmate or on family members when you get to this point in your OT school career. My instructor and the person I was examining were also very helpful and provided constructive feedback on my performance. The whole thing probably lasted about 7 minutes, and I feel pretty good about my ability to actually do these things with real clients in the future!

Since a lot of my education this semester has been very foundational knowledge about neuroscience, anatomy, and the professional foundations of occupational therapy practice, it’s cool to know that I now have at least the beginnings of a skill set that I can use clinically – not that the other stuff I’ve learned won’t be used clinically, but knowing how to use a goniometer and perform manual muscle testing just feels more like “real OT” to me!

I’ve still got a lot of homework, essays, and exams to finish before my time here is up for the semester, so I guess I’ll get going and go do that. Hopefully I’ll be back again soon!

2 thoughts on “Measuring Up to be a True OT!

  1. Karen December 3, 2014 / 4:22 pm

    Hi Lauren! I really enjoyed reading a bunch of your posts just now. I wrote about my schooling in detail if you see the 2006-2009 archives on, which I gather you know based on what I see you wrote a while ago mentioning some blogs. So kind of you. You are providing great information and really contributing to AOTA’s Centennial Vision with your hard work here. A labor of love, I know. GREAT JOB.

    • lej1123 December 5, 2014 / 1:07 am

      Thank you for taking the time to comment AND for sharing my site on your blog, Karen! I am definitely familiar with your blog, as a lot of time spent reading it (and neglecting other obligations, lol) got me excited to join this profession in the first place! 😀
      I also appreciate your support and encouragement. Good luck continuing on your path to earning your OTD, and I hope we communicate more in the future!

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