|Title||Control of fingertip forces in young and older adults pressing against fixed low- and high-friction surfaces.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2012|
|Authors||Keenan, KG, Massey, WV|
|Keywords||Adolescent, Adult, Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Autoantigens, Cell Cycle Proteins, Female, Fingers, Friction, Hand Strength, Humans, Male, Muscle, Skeletal, Surface Properties, Young Adult|
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.
|Alternate Journal||PLoS ONE|
|PubMed Central ID||PMC3480490|