Passive Range of Motion for Elbow and Wrist CNA Skill

Staying mobile can be a challenge for many patients that CNAs work with. Range of motion is important for all parts of the body, including smaller joints like the wrist. As part of some patients care plans you’ll need to provide range of motion exercises for the elbow and wrist. This is also a skill you may be tested on as part of your CNA skills exam as you work towards your CNA certification. 

To learn all the necessary steps for this skill, please watch this elbow and wrist partial range of motion for a complete demonstration. 

CNA Skill – Range of Motion Elbow and Wrist Exercises for Skills Exam

The process for ROM exercises for the elbow and wrist during the CNA skills exam is as follows:

  1. Perform the standard CNA beginning tasks. Knock before entering the patient’s room, greet the patient by name, introduce yourself, explain the task you are about to perform, close the privacy curtain, and wash your hands.
  2. Let the patient know that you will be providing the motion, they simply need to let you know if they feel pain or discomfort.
  3. The first exercise is for the elbow. Lay the patient’s arm flat by their side with their palm facing up. Grasp them by the wrist and slowly flex the arm upward with their hand moving toward their shoulder, then move it back to the starting position. Repeat this motion three times.
  4. The next exercise is for the wrist. Position the patient’s arm at a 90 degree angle. With one hand, brace the patient’s wrist, then wrap your hand over the patient’s fingers, and while keeping the patient’s arm stable, bend their wrist forward and backwards three times – the motion should be similar to revving a motorcycle throttle. 
  5. Perform your standard completion tasks – wash your hands, ensure the patient has a clean environment, ask if they are comfortable, give them their call light and close their privacy curtain.

* Please be sure to consult the testing materials provided by the skills test provider in your state to ensure that these steps for CNAs to perform range of motion exercises for the elbow and wrist are in compliance. The procedure in different states and from different test providers can vary slightly and greatly affect your score.