Improve Your Evaluation with a Grip Strength Test

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Grip strength testing can provide beneficial information for function and health of seniors.

Clinicians are always looking for ways to evaluate deficits for safety parameters and expected progress of their patients. Grip strength testing has been well researched, and is being utilized as a valid and reliable test for many areas. Studies have demonstrated the Grip Strength Assessment’s usefulness with prediction of frailty with cardiac disease (Reeve, 2018), fracture risk with osteoporosis (Cheung, 2012) ambulation recovery after hip fracture (Chang, 2021), and even cognitive decline (Fritz, 2017) .

Grip strength testing requires minimal time, is tolerated well, and is easy to perform and rate.

A patient sits with elbows bent to 90 degrees, and performs a max hand grip 3 times on each side, with a hand dynamometer (hydraulic or digital) usually in the second position. The average measurement of three tests is the recognized measurement. You can then compare that measurement to healthy people in their age category. This information can be useful as objective data demonstrating need for strengthening, need for device or assist, estimated recovery time, or for setting goals toward recovery. Please see the article at the bottom of post with further details!

Special considerations with hand grip strength testing:

1. The Jamar Dynamometer has been used and validated in many studies. (affiliate link)

2. Lower cost dynamometers have been shown to be valid and reliable (see this study).

3. Recalibrate your equipment annually.

4. Review a patient’s medical history for orthopedic hand or wrist precautions prior to grip testing.

5. Use precautions with cardiac concern, arthritis or osteoporosis, consider one side only if pain or injury: see this link for a more detailed list of possible precautions.

6. Inexpensive hand grippers may provide incentive and increase follow through for patient exercise and motivation. (affiliate link)

7. Check out this article from Physiopedia for more grip strength information!

8. Here is a pdf with normative data for 75 + year olds (male and female) handgrip strength. (Bohannon, 2007)

I would love to hear what you think! Do you assess grip strength regularly? Do you have any other tips for grip strength assessment? Subscribe to my blog for a FREEBIE starter packet of health care organization for seniors. Look for more hand exercises next week!

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