Document Detail

Control of fingertip forces in young and older adults pressing against fixed low- and high-friction surfaces.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23110210     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Mobile computing devices (e.g., smartphones and tablets) that have low-friction surfaces require well-directed fingertip forces of sufficient and precise magnitudes for proper use. Although general impairments in manual dexterity are well-documented in older adults, it is unclear how these sensorimotor impairments influence the ability of older adults to dexterously manipulate fixed, low-friction surfaces in particular. 21 young and 18 older (65+ yrs) adults produced maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs) and steady submaximal forces (2.5 and 10% MVC) with the fingertip of the index finger. A Teflon covered custom-molded splint was placed on the fingertip. A three-axis force sensor was covered with either Teflon or sandpaper to create low- and high-friction surfaces, respectively. Maximal downward forces (F(z)) were similar (p = .135) for young and older adults, and decreased by 15% (p<.001) while pressing on Teflon compared to sandpaper. Fluctuations in F(z) during the submaximal force-matching tasks were 2.45× greater (p<.001) for older adults than in young adults, and reached a maximum when older adults pressed against the Teflon surface while receiving visual feedback. These age-associated changes in motor performance are explained, in part, by altered muscle activity from three hand muscles and out-of-plane forces. Quantifying the ability to produce steady fingertip forces against low-friction surfaces may be a better indicator of impairment and disability than the current practice of evaluating maximal forces with pinch meters. These age-associated impairments in dexterity while interacting with low-friction surfaces may limit the use of the current generation of computing interfaces by older adults.
Kevin G Keenan; William V Massey
Publication Detail:
Type:  Clinical Trial; Journal Article     Date:  2012-10-24
Journal Detail:
Title:  PloS one     Volume:  7     ISSN:  1932-6203     ISO Abbreviation:  PLoS ONE     Publication Date:  2012  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-10-30     Completed Date:  2013-04-26     Revised Date:  2013-07-11    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101285081     Medline TA:  PLoS One     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  e48193     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Age Factors
Aged, 80 and over
Autoantigens / metabolism
Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
Fingers / physiology*
Friction / physiology*
Hand Strength / physiology
Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
Surface Properties
Young Adult
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Autoantigens; 0/Cell Cycle Proteins; 0/PCM1 protein, human

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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