Clocks and Value in Cognition

Short version: Having a client draw you an analog clock (especially one pointing to a specific time) gives valuable insight into their current neurocognitive abilities with regards to problem-solving, sequencing, following directions, visual field, and more.


Longer version:
Check out this clock. It was done by an adult artist with developmental delays. I saw it in an airport exhibit. Very cool and thought provoking. I learned during my fieldwork/internship days in the locked geriatric psychiatric ward and rehab hospitals that one of the fastest ways to get a handle on an adult’s level of cognitive functioning is to ask them to draw you a clock. Sure, all of us may mess up once or twice, but should get it right once we learn from a mistake or two. When the client ignore half the clock, or bunch all the numbers up and can’t figure out how to fix it on their next try, it’s important to realize there are possibly some neurocognitive deficits present, even if mild enough that they don’t present in a superficial conversation.

The best way I’ve seen to draw the clock is to add in 12, 3, 6, 9, and then go from there in filling in. I don’t feel this is as valid with younger generations (ie, aged 30ish or below) because we grew up with digital clocks more so than analog. I always wear a digital clock because while I can read analog clocks, it takes me an extra few seconds, especially if I’m stressed or pressured. I’m always fascinated watching people draw clocks, no matter what their level of functioning, to see their approach.

Dec 24, 2013 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

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