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Predicting hand function in older adults: evaluations of grip strength, arm curl strength, and manual dexterity

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Hand function is critical for independence in activities of daily living for older adults.


The purpose of this study was to examine how grip strength, arm curl strength, and manual dexterous coordination contributed to time-based versus self-report assessment of hand function in community-dwelling older adults.


Adults aged ≥60 years without low vision or neurological disorders were recruited. Purdue Pegboard Test, Jamar hand dynamometer, 30-second arm curl test, Jebsen-Taylor Hand Function Test, and the Late-Life Function and Disability Instrument were administered to assess manual dexterous coordination, grip strength, arm curl strength, time-based hand function, and self-report of hand function, respectively.


Eighty-four adults (mean age = 72 years) completed the study. Hierarchical multiple regressions show that older adults with better arm curl strength (β = −.25, p < .01) and manual dexterous coordination (β = −.52, p < .01) performed better on the time-based hand function test. In comparison, older adults with better grip strength (β = .40, p < .01), arm curl strength (β = .23, p < .05), and manual dexterous coordination (β = .23, p < .05) were associated with better self-report of upper extremity function.


The relationship between grip strength and hand function may be test-specific. Grip strength becomes a significant factor when the test requires grip strength to successfully complete the test tasks. Arm curl strength independently contributed to hand function in both time-based and self-report assessments, indicating that strength of extrinsic muscles of the hand are essential for hand function.

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Portion of the results had been presented in a poster format at the 2016 Annual Conference and Expo of American Occupational Therapy Association in Chicago, IL.

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Correspondence to Chiung-ju Liu.

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Statement of human and animal rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study did not involve animals.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.

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Liu, Cj., Marie, D., Fredrick, A. et al. Predicting hand function in older adults: evaluations of grip strength, arm curl strength, and manual dexterity. Aging Clin Exp Res 29, 753–760 (2017).

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