A Novel Method for the Assessment of Precision Force Control in Children



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Dexterity testing in children is necessary to identify developmental pathology and potentially guide treatments for a younger population, as we treat many congenital hand differences early in life. Current tests focus on time-based measures of dexterity. However, dexterity also depends on how well the forces exerted on an object (i.e. a toy) are controlled. Therefore, the current clinical tests are not sensitive to assessing the dexterity changes that occur because of development pathology or after an intervention. A test that uses both time-based measures alongside measurement of finger forces can more accurately assess pediatric dexterity. To meet this challenge, we developed a novel device to comprehensively assess the dexterity function by the total force exerted on the object in addition to trial duration. We aim to assess the interrater reliability of the device. We recruited 9 typically developing children aged 4-15 years who performed a task under 3 difficulty levels (low, medium, high) on the novel device. Two independent raters then analyzed the data, and a third researcher calculated intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC). We found that the ICC (2,1) between the 2 raters (absolute agreement) was between 0.97 and 0.99 for all difficulty levels for the trial duration measure. For the total force measure, we found that the ICC (2,1) between the 2 raters was between 0.98 and 0.99. Our findings suggest that there is high interrater reliability for our new device concerning precision force control.