Grip strength or hand strength is an anthropometric measurement that measures the maximum isometric strength of the hand and forearm muscles. Understanding a patients hand-grip strength is important for a couple of reasons. In sports, hand grip strength is important in any sport that involves the use of the hands, such as catching, throwing or lifting. Also, as we age our grip strength becomes weaker, which eventually begins to affect the day-to-day tasks we all do. Like the simple tasks of carrying groceries, opening jars, and turning a doorknob can be difficult if our grip strength becomes weak.
The Importance of Grip Strength
Longitudinal studies have shown that grip strength is a reliable indicator of many health conditions that are associated with aging. Some of the health conditions correlated with grip strength are greater risk of heart attach or stroke. Studies have shown that if there is an 11 pound decrease in grip strength then that correlates to a 17 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death, a 7 percent increased risk of heart attack and 9 percent increased risk of stroke.
It's important to note that weakened grip strength does not cause health problems, but it correlates with age related health issues. With that said improving grip strength may not by itself improve overall health as we age. But it can be used as an indicator of oncoming health issues as we age.
Testing Grip Strength with a Hand or Grip Dynamometer
With the patient's arm at a right angle (90 degrees) and their elbow by the side of the body, the clinician places the hand dynamometer in the patients hand to be tested. The base of the of the hand dynamometer should rest on the first metacarpal (heel of palm), while the handle should rest on the middle of the four fingers. When the patient is ready, they should squeeze the dynamometer with maximum isometric effort, which is maintained for about 5 seconds. Maximum effort doesn't mean with a rapid jerk motion, but it means smooth motion. No other body movement is allowed when squeezing the hand dynamometer. The patient should be strongly encouraged to give a maximum effort.
- Baseline, BIMS Digital 5-Position Grip Dynamometer, Deluxe Model
- Jamar Hand Dynamometer - Hydraulic - 200 lb Capacity
- MicroFET HandGRIP Dynamometer - Wireless
- JTECH Medical Commander Echo - Grip Dynamometer with Console
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