SOAP Note Example for Occupational Therapy

Table of contents
  1. Subjective
  2. Objective
  3. Assessment
  4. Plan
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Reflexion

Occupational therapy is a critical component of rehabilitation and healthcare, and creating effective SOAP notes is a vital skill for occupational therapists. SOAP notes are a method of documentation used by healthcare providers to record a patient's health status and treatment plan. The acronym "SOAP" stands for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan, and these notes provide a clear and organized way to communicate important information about a patient's care. In this article, we'll explore a detailed SOAP note example for occupational therapy, along with an in-depth analysis of each section.


The subjective section of a SOAP note includes information provided directly by the patient, such as their symptoms, concerns, and feelings. For example, a patient might describe experiencing difficulty performing daily activities due to pain or reduced mobility. Additionally, subjective information may include the patient's goals and expectations for therapy.

When creating a SOAP note for occupational therapy, the subjective section should focus on the patient's specific occupational challenges and how their condition is impacting their ability to engage in meaningful activities. Here's an example of the subjective section for a patient receiving occupational therapy for hand injury:

  1. The patient reports experiencing pain and stiffness in the right hand, particularly when trying to grip objects or perform fine motor tasks.
  2. She states that the hand injury has made it challenging to perform everyday activities such as writing, cooking, and using a computer keyboard.
  3. The patient expresses frustration and anxiety about the impact of the injury on her independence and ability to fulfill her role as a parent and professional.

Analysis of Subjective Section

In this example, the occupational therapist has documented the patient's specific complaints related to hand function and how these difficulties are affecting her ability to engage in meaningful occupations. The therapist has also noted the patient's emotional response to the injury, which is essential for understanding the holistic impact of the condition on the patient's well-being.


The objective section of a SOAP note comprises measurable, observable, and quantifiable data obtained through evaluation and assessment. In occupational therapy, this may include information related to the patient's physical abilities, range of motion, strength, coordination, and functional performance. Additionally, this section may document specific occupational tasks that the patient is struggling to perform due to their condition.

Here's an example of the objective section for the same patient receiving occupational therapy for a hand injury:

  1. Decreased grip strength of 4/5 in the right hand, as measured by handheld dynamometry.
  2. Restricted active range of motion in the right wrist, with 20 degrees of extension deficit and 15 degrees of flexion deficit.
  3. Difficulty manipulating small objects and performing dexterous tasks, as observed during a simulated meal preparation activity.

Analysis of Objective Section

In this example, the occupational therapist has provided specific, measurable data regarding the patient's physical impairments and functional limitations. This objective information allows the therapist to track the patient's progress over time and design targeted interventions to address the identified deficits.


The assessment section of a SOAP note involves the therapist's professional analysis and interpretation of the subjective and objective data. It includes the therapist's clinical impressions, potential diagnoses, and formulation of therapeutic goals based on the information gathered. The assessment should be individualized to the patient's condition and goals for occupational therapy.

Here's an example of the assessment section for the patient with a hand injury:

  • Based on the subjective report and objective findings, it is evident that the patient is experiencing impairments in hand strength, range of motion, and fine motor skills, leading to difficulties in performing essential activities of daily living.
  • The patient's emotional response indicates the significant impact of the hand injury on her overall well-being and quality of life.
  • Potential diagnoses include right hand flexor tendon injury and functional limitations due to pain and stiffness.
  • Therapeutic goals will focus on decreasing pain, improving hand strength and dexterity, and enhancing the patient's ability to engage in meaningful occupations.

Analysis of Assessment Section

The assessment section demonstrates the therapist's clinical reasoning and provides a comprehensive overview of the patient's condition, including both physical and emotional components. By formulating specific therapeutic goals, the therapist can tailor interventions to address the patient's unique needs and maximize functional outcomes.


The plan section of a SOAP note outlines the occupational therapist's proposed intervention strategies and treatment plan for the patient. It includes specific therapeutic interventions, modalities, education, and anticipated outcomes. The plan should be evidence-based and centered on the patient's goals and functional needs.

Here's an example of the plan section for the patient with a hand injury:

  1. Initiate a home exercise program focused on improving hand strength and flexibility, including therapeutic exercises and activities targeting grip strength and dexterity.
  2. Provide education on joint protection techniques, energy conservation strategies, and adaptive equipment to support the patient's independence in activities of daily living.
  3. Implement modalities such as paraffin wax therapy and therapeutic ultrasound to alleviate pain and promote tissue healing in the affected hand.
  4. Collaborate with the patient to establish realistic short-term and long-term goals, including the resumption of work-related tasks and participation in leisure activities that require manual dexterity.

Analysis of Plan Section

The plan section demonstrates the therapist's proactive approach to addressing the patient's needs through a combination of therapeutic interventions, patient education, and collaborative goal-setting. By incorporating evidence-based strategies, the therapist aims to facilitate the patient's recovery and successful return to meaningful occupations.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the purpose of a SOAP note in occupational therapy?

The purpose of a SOAP note in occupational therapy is to provide a structured method for documenting a patient's status, treatment plan, and progress. It allows therapists to organize and communicate essential information related to the patient's occupational performance, functional limitations, and therapeutic goals.

2. How does the subjective section differ in occupational therapy SOAP notes?

In occupational therapy SOAP notes, the subjective section focuses on the patient's specific occupational challenges, including how their condition is impacting their ability to engage in meaningful activities. This may involve details about the patient's difficulty with work-related tasks, hobbies, self-care activities, and social participation.

3. Why is it important to include measurable data in the objective section of a SOAP note?

Including measurable data in the objective section of a SOAP note is essential for tracking a patient's progress and functional outcomes over time. It provides an objective basis for evaluating the effectiveness of interventions and justifying the need for ongoing therapy.


In conclusion, creating comprehensive SOAP notes is an integral aspect of providing high-quality occupational therapy services. By effectively documenting subjective, objective, assessment, and plan information, therapists can ensure continuity of care, facilitate interdisciplinary communication, and promote positive outcomes for their patients. Through the example provided in this article, it is evident that the meticulous documentation of a patient's condition and treatment plan is essential for delivering client-centered and evidence-based occupational therapy interventions.

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