Hand function is inversely proportional to age irrespective of gender, especially after the age of 65 years. In the elderly population, hand function deteriorates due to age-related degenerative changes in the musculoskeletal, vascular, & nervous systems and local structural changes of joints, muscles, tendons, bone, and nerves.
Grip strength is a significant predictor of hand dexterity, but age-related physiological changes trigger musculoskeletal hand problems and reduce grip strength significantly.
Normally, hand function seems to remain stable till the age of 60, but it gradually decreases after that.
Grip strength is the biomarker for older adults
Grip strength is an indispensable biomarker of older adults. Many scientific studies around the world have supported this statement.
Recent scientific shreds of evidence consider grip strength as the measuring metric of
- Concurrent overall strength
- Bone mineral density
- Upper limb functions
- Prone to fracture & fall
- Cognitive impairment
- Nutrition deficiency
Thus, occupational therapists or physiotherapists recommend grip strength as the stand-alone risk measurement factor of older adults. (1)
Hand functions get deeply impacted by aging; Grip strengthening helps elderly adults to regain their hand strength & flexibility
Hand functions are deeply impacted by aging. This biological phenomenon mainly affects joints and connective tissues, & exhilarates gradual structural changes of bone and cartilage.
Age-related changes in connective tissues increase stiffness and decrease strength. Aging makes joint movements stiffer and less flexible because the amount of synovial fluid inside the joint decreases and cartilage becomes thinner, ligaments tend to shorten, & thereby gradually lose flexibility. Stiffness in Joints makes elderly adults’ hands less functional and poor in strength. Aging process also affects the range of motion (ROM) of joints, and limits the joint movements. (2)
The Journal of the American Geriatric Society (AGS) has published a research study, “Effect of Ageing on Hand Function”. (3)
This cross-sectional study was performed in the Greater Cleveland area of Ohio, and the main objective of this study was to quantify age-induced changes in hand grip and finger pitch strength. Finally, researchers concluded that aging has a degenerative effect on hand functions; it gradually reduces the hand and finger strength along with the pinching power of a person.
However, older adults can restore their hand strength by performing grip-strengthening exercises. Isometric exercises are the best approach for older adults to regain their hand strength gradually. Isometric training includes a set of light exercises where the muscles are not shortening or lengthening. However, no exercise is complete without evaluating, monitoring & tracking its effectiveness.
According to experts, no matter which kind of routine exercises we perform, we must keep track of whether those exercises are effective and contribute to improving our hand grip strength. A digital grip strengthener like Squegg is the most reliable tool to measure the grip strength routinely. It is a blue-tooth-enabled dynamometer cum digital grip strengthener that not only measures patients’ progress but also helps them to improve it through exciting in-app games and engaging home exercise plans( HEP).
Grip strength training & rehabilitation program for elderly adults must be accompanied by four most important factors, including:
- Asses different types of grips
- Better monitoring & planning ( it can also be done through remote assessment)
- Increase patient engagement & compliance
- Tracking the progress
For elderly patients, a home-based hand therapy program is crucial because consistency is necessary for any rehab care program. A digital device like Squegg is featured with remote training and assessment capabilities to ensure one doesn’t miss hand therapy exercises. Its dedicated application allows users to share the progress report with their therapists, and they can get real-time feedback.
- Bohannon, R.W. (2019). Grip Strength: An Indispensable Biomarker For Older Adults. Clinical Interventions in Aging, [online] 14, pp.1681–1691. doi:https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S194543.
- Physiopedia. (n.d.). Effects of Ageing on Joints. [online] Available at: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Effects_of_Ageing_on_Joints?utm_source=physiopedia&utm_medium=related_articles&utm_campaign=ongoing_internal.
- Ranganathan, V.K., Siemionow, V., Sahgal, V. and Yue, G.H. (2001). Effects of Aging on Hand Function. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 49(11), pp.1478–1484. doi:https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1532-5415.2001.4911240.x.