Objective. Occupational therapists are interested in quality of movement under different environmental conditions. It has been shown that during reaching tasks, the physical aspects of the objects to be grasped can influence the quality of movement. This study investigated whether perceived risk (water temperature) affected the quality of movement during a pouring task.

Method. In a counterbalanced, repeated measures design, 56 participants (M =27.1 years, SD =7.4 years) poured hot, then cold water to prepare hot and cold beverages. Dependent variables included movement time, displacement, peak velocity, percentage of movement time to peak velocity, and movement units. Data were analyzed with paired t tests.

Results. Participant performance in displacement and movement time was significantly different when considering the entire pouring task for both the hot and the cold conditions (ps < .05). In addition, significant differences were found in the discrete movement “sub-portions” of the pouring task (ps < .05).

Conclusion. Perceived risk is an element of meaning that the occupational therapist can consider in providing the person with just enough challenge to facilitate successful performance. By varying the amount of perceived risk in the occupational form, the therapist can help the person experience and develop the range of movement strategies required by everyday occupations. Future research is needed to corroborate these findings in simple and more complex occupations as well as to examine perceived risk in special populations.

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