OBJECTIVE. Developing useful movement with the affected extremity in persons with cerebrovascular accidents (CVAs) is a common occupational therapy goal. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of perceived risk in an occupational form on upper-extremity movement dynamics in persons who have had CVAs.

METHOD. Twenty-eight persons (M = 69.6 years, SD = 15.6 years) with post-CVA participated in the randomly assigned, repeated measures counterbalanced study. In the higher risk condition, participants reached for and grasped a raw egg in an egg carton, transported it, and placed it in a bowl with other raw eggs. The same procedure was completed in the lower risk condition with weight-matched plastic eggs. Participants completed both conditions with their affected and unaffected upper extremities. Dependent variables included total movement time and movement units.

RESULTS. The higher risk condition produced statistically significantly longer movement times (p ≤ .001), but no difference in movement units (p > .05) compared to the lower risk condition. The affected extremity had significantly longer overall movement times (p ≤ .001), but no difference in movement units (p > .05) compared to the unaffected extremity.

CONCLUSION. When higher levels of perceived risk are present in an occupational form, slower movements are elicited among persons who have had a CVA. The occupational therapist can grade tasks from relatively lower risk to tasks with relatively higher risk to help patients achieve desired variability in their movement patterns. By doing this, the patient will be better prepared for everyday situations that vary widely in degree of risk.

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