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OTHY203 - Occupational Therapy Interventions for Physical Conditions

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit focuses on foundation knowledge in biomechanics, kinesiology, hand therapy and orthotics. Upper limb anatomy and biomechanical terminology are reviewed and students are taught a range of assessment techniques such as testing muscle strength and range of motion. Students are expected to relate clinical findings to occupational performance issues and to approach interventions from an occupational performance perspective.

The aim of this unit is to develop students' knowledge and skills in upper limb assessment, intervention and orthotics fabrication.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify principles of kinesiology and biomechanics using correct terminology; (ACU Graduate Attribute: 5)

LO2 - Assess joint motion and muscle strength using goniometry and manual muscle testing; (ACU Graduate Attribute: 5)

LO3 - Apply clinical reasoning to assess and treat common injuries and diseases of the upper limb; (ACU Graduate Attributes: 4, 5, 8)

LO4 - Apply biomechanical and anatomical principles to fabricate orthoses; (ACU Graduate Attributes: 5, 10)

LO5 - Critically appraise orthoses fabrication and relevance to the OT process. (ACU Graduate Attributes: 4, 5, 8, 10)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018 developed within this unit:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1 - Professionalism 

1.8 adheres to all work health and safety, and quality requirements for practice

1.10 practises within limits of her/his own level of competence and expertise

1.11 maintains professional competence and adapts to change in practice contexts

1.12 identifies and uses relevant professional and operational support and supervision

1.13 manages resources, time and workload accountably and effectively

1.14 recognises and manages her/his own physical and mental health for safe, professional practice


Standard 2 - Knowledge and learning 

2.1 applies current and evidence-informed knowledge of occupational therapy and other appropriate and relevant theory in practice

2.2 applies theory and frameworks of occupation to professional practice and decision making

2.3 identifies and applies best available evidence in professional practice and decision making

2.4 understands and responds to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health philosophies, leadership, research and practices

2.6 maintains and improves currency of knowledge, skills and new evidence for practice by adhering to the requirements for continuing professional development

2.8 reflects on practice to inform current and future reasoning and decision-making and the integration of theory and evidence into practice

2.9 maintains knowledge of relevant resources and technologies


Standard 3 - Occupational therapy process and practice 

3.1 addresses occupational performance and participation of clients, identifying the enablers and barriers to engagement

3.2 performs appropriate information gathering and assessment when identifying a client’s status and functioning, strengths, occupational performance and goals

3.3 collaborates with the client and relevant others to determine the priorities and occupational therapy goals

3.4 develops a plan with the client and relevant others to meet identified occupational therapy goals

3.5 selects and implements culturally responsive and safe practice strategies to suit the occupational therapy goals and environment of the client

3.7 reflects on practice to inform and communicate professional reasoning and decision making

3.8 identifies and uses practice guidelines and protocols suitable to the practice setting or work environment

3.10 reviews, evaluates and modifies plans, goals and interventions with the client and relevant others to enhance or achieve client outcomes

3.13 uses appropriate assistive technology, devices and/or environmental modifications to achieve client occupational performance outcomes

Standard 4 - Communication 

4.1 communicates openly, respectfully and effectively

4.2 adapts written, verbal and non-verbal communication appropriate to the client and practice context

4.5 complies with legal and procedural requirements for the responsible and accurate documentation, sharing and storage of professional information and records of practice

4.9 uses effective communication skills to initiate and end relationships with clients and relevant others

4.10 seeks and responds to feedback, modifying communication and/or practice accordingly, and

4.11 identifies and articulates the rationale for practice to clients and relevant others.



Topics will include:

Biomechanical and kinesiological principles

  • Introduction
  • Related to analysis of normal and abnormal movements
  • Forces
  • Measurement
  • Levers

Assessment techniques for hand and upper limb

  • Range of motion 
  • Muscle strength 
  • Manual muscle testing
  • Goniometry
  • Surface anatomy of the hand
  • Assessing pain and sensation
  • Clinical reasoning in upper limb rehabilitation
  • Impact of injury and disability on occupational performance

Occupational therapy processes in hand therapy

  • Occupational therapy specialisation in diseases and injuries of the upper limb
  • Wound healing
  • Oedema
  • Scarring 
  • Tendon injury and repair
  • Fracture
  • Nerve injuries
  • Burns
  • Arthritis
  • Orthotics
  • Splinting – finger splint, resting splint, padding and splinting tips

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Teaching and learning strategies for this unit will include lectures, tutorials, practical sessions, case studies and self-directed learning. 

Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within practical and group activities, demonstrating respect for the individual as an independent learner.

Lectures will deliver expert content on a rage of upper limb conditions. Tutorial allow students to gather and apply knowledge to case studies and clinical scenarios. Practicums are focused on the development of skills ie ROM/MMT assessment and orthotics fabrication. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, you are required: 

• To attempt and submit all assessment tasks

• To gain an overall pass in the total mark from your weighted assessment tasks. 

• To meet the attendance requirements set for tutorials and practicals as outlined above in the extended unit outline.

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for you to demonstrate your achievement of each learning outcome.

Assessment 1: 2 x online quizzes that require students to demonstrate knowledge of range of motion assessment, manual muscle testing and their ability to fabricate and evaluate splints.

Assessment 2: A 3000 word written intervention plan. Students must apply clinical reasoning in the development of an occupation-based goal directed assessment and intervention plan applied to a selected case study in the area of hand therapy practice.

Assessment 3: A 2-hour exam focuses on the core learning undertaken within the unit including materials from lectures, tutorials and practicals. The exam covers principles of kinesiology and biomechanics, assessment of joint motion and muscle strength and the application of clinical reasoning to assess and treat common injuries and diseases of the upper limb.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Online Assessment

A. Assessment Techniques

B. Orthoses Fabrication



2, 3, 4, 5

4, 5, 8, 10

Case Study Assignment (Paired)



4, 5, 8

Written Two Hour Exam


1, 3

4, 5, 8

Representative texts and references

Cooper, C. (2015). Fundamentals of hand therapy: clinical reasoning and treatment guidelines for common diagnosis of upper extremity. (2nd ed.). St. Louis: C.V. Mosby & Co. 

Trombly, C.A.. & Radomski, M.V. (Eds). (2014). Occupational therapy for physical dysfunction (7th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.

Crepeau, E.B., Cohn, E.S., & Schell, B.A. (Eds.) (2009). Willard and Spackman’s occupational therapy (11th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.


Davis, J., Craik, J., & Polatajko, H. (2007). Using the Canadian Process Practice Framework: Amplifying the process. In Townsend, E. Enabling occupation 11: advancing an occupational therapy vision for health, well-being and justice through occupation (pp.242-272) Ottawa: Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists ACE. 

Skirven, T.M., Ostermanm L.A., Fedorczyk, J. & Amadio, P.C. (2011). Rehabilitation of the hand and upper extremity (6th ed.). Philadelphia: Mosby, Inc.

Moore, K. L., & Dalley A. F. (2010). Clinically oriented anatomy (6th ed.). Baltimore: Wolters Kluwers, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 

Wilton, J. (Ed.) (2014). Hand splinting principles of design and fabrication (3rd ed.).London: Saunders.

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