The Relationship Between Hand Strength and the Forces Used To Access Containers by Well Elderly Persons
OBJECTIVE. This study extended previous work of Rice, Leonard, and Carter [AJOT, 52(8), 621–626] and examined the relationship between grip and pinch strengths and the forces produced while accessing common household containers in healthy, elderly persons.
METHOD. Forty-two women and 9 men 60 years of age and older were assigned randomly to one of four order groups in a counterbalanced, repeated-measures design. Grip strength was measured via a dynamometer and pinch strength via a pinch meter. The forces required to access six common household containers were measured with force sensing resistors applied to each container. Data analysis included Pearson product-moment correlations between the dependent variables of grip and pinch strength and force produced on the containers. Analyses of variance were used to determine differences by gender on the dependent measures and order of presentation of containers.
RESULTS. A fair relationship (r = .31 to .44) was found between grip and pinch strength and the ability to open three containers. Little or no relationship was found between grip and pinch strength and the ability to open the remaining three containers (r = −.03 to .25). Significant gender differences existed on overall strength and the force used to access two of the six containers. No order effects were found.
CONCLUSIONS. Strong relationships did not exist between the grip and pinch strength and the amount of force the elderly participants used to open the containers, which is similar to what Rice et al. found for younger persons. The participants appeared to use a greater proportion of their available strength when accessing the containers than did their younger counterparts previously studied. Further research is needed to determine at what level of weakness one would expect to see performance deficits in common daily occupations.