OBJECTIVE. This study investigated the effects of school-based occupational therapy services on students’ handwriting.

METHOD. Students 7 to 10 years of age with poor handwriting legibility who received direct occupational therapy services (n = 29) were compared with students who did not receive services (n = 9) on handwriting legibility and speed and associated performance components. Visual-motor, visual-perception, in-hand manipulation, and handwriting legibility and speed were measured at the beginning and end of the academic year. The intervention group received a mean of 16.4 sessions and 528 min of direct occupational therapy services during the school year. According to the therapists, visual-motor skills and handwriting practice were emphasized most in intervention.

RESULTS. Students in the intervention group showed significant increases in in-hand manipulation and position in space scores. They also improved more in handwriting legibility scores than the students in the comparison group. Fifteen students in the intervention group demonstrated greater than 90% legibility at the end of the school year. On average, legibility increased by 14.2% in the students who received services and by 5.8% in the students who did not receive services. Speed increased slightly more in the students who did not receive services.

CONCLUSION. Students who received occupational therapy services demonstrated improved letter legibility, but speed and numeral legibility did not demonstrate positive intervention effects.

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