August 4, 2016

UAMS Hand Surgery and UCA Occupational Therapy Studying Grip Strength Variables

UCA_CHBS-vert-268 (1)-resized2
Marc Willey, PhD, OTR/L, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Central Arkansas

When assessing hand function, grip strength is frequently evaluated by hand surgeons and occupational therapists to determine the effects hand injuries and disorders have on the grasping strength. Historically, normative data has been provided for gender and age. A new study is underway that will look at occupation, hand and forearm size as correlating variables to grip strength.

Hand Therapy

Matthew Lacy, BS, OTS evaluates the grip strength of Lindsey Roe, BS, OTS
This research is being conducted under the supervision of UAMS Hand Surgery Director Theresa Wyrick, MD, Chad Songy, MD, PGY 3, Kim McCain RN, ONC, and Marc Willey, PhD, OTR/L who is an occupational therapy faculty member at UCA. Additional Investigators include Austin Cole MS II and Mathew Lacy, OTS (student). The overall purpose of this research is to determine the relationship of selected anthropometric variables (specifically forearm circumference and hand length) to grip strength in healthy adults using dynamometry. Dynamometry is defined as the measurement of force or power. The study will include participants ranging in age from 18 to 78.

The hand is the most important, complicated, and distinguishing tool on the human body (Angst et al., 2010). Occupational therapists and other healthcare providers frequently utilize grip strength evaluations as part of overall treatment planning. Currently, age and gender are the primary variables utilized for determining grip strength norms in adults 18 years of age or older. This study will determine the effect hand length and forearm circumference has on grip strength. Grip strength is primarily related to an individual’s hand function and has been used to determine injury severity, progress in therapy, ability to work, post-surgical success, overall mortality, likelihood of falls, and bone mineral density. Grip strength is impacted by position of shoulder, wrist, forearm, and body posture (Khan & Shruti, 2013; Angst et al., 2010; Bohannon, 2008). Norms are provided as a provider for the stages of hand injury and hand surgery recovery (Trampisch, 2012). This allows therapists to better determine the extent of injury and disease progression and the potential for rehabilitation progression (Richards, 1995). Previous studies have recorded norms based on factors such as sex, age, weight, height, and profession. Gender has been found to be the strongest predictor of grip strength, but outside of gender, few other variables have been found to be highly predictive. Recent studies have suggested that hand length and forearm circumference may be additional factors that can influence the results of one’s grip strength (Angst et al., 2010; Fallahi & Jadidian, 2011). In our study, each participant’s hands will be measured from the wrist crease to the distal tip of the middle finger and their forearm circumference will be measured at the widest point two inches distal to the lateral epicondyle. These measurements will be correlated with grip strength values for each participant. Former research studies have concluded that grip strength is a good indicator for future health problems (Louhevaara, 2000). Hand length and forearm circumference has the potential to be a more accurate variable to determine grip strength for functional activities of daily living and hand rehabilitation. When hand function has been significantly decreased, grip strength can be helpful in determining permanent disability.


  1. Angst, F., Drerup, S., Werle, S., Herren, D.B., Simmen, B.R., & Goldhahn, J. (2010). Prediction of grip and key pinch strength in 978 healthy subjects. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 11 (94), 1-6.
  2. Bohannon, Richard W. (2008). Hand-grip dynamometry predicts further outcomes in aging adults. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, 31 (1), 3-10.
    Fallahi, A. A. & Jadidian, A. A. (2011). The effect of hand dimensions, hand shape and some anthropometric characteristics on handgrip strength in male grip athletes and non-athletes. Journal of Human Kinetics, 29, 151-159.
  3. Louhevaara, V., Smolander, J., Aminoff, T., Korhonen, O., & Shen, N. (2000). Cardiorespiratory responses to fatiguing dynamic and isometric hand-grip exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 82(4), 340.
  4. Khan, T. & Shruti, M. (2013). Effect of different arm and forearm positions on grip strength. International Journal of Sports Sciences and Fitness, 3(2), 259–344.