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Am J Occup Ther. 1997 Jul-Aug;51(7):544-52.

In-hand manipulation in young children: rotation of an object in the fingers.

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  • 1Department of Occupational Therapy, Worchester State College, Massachusetts 01602-2597, USA.



The purpose of this study was to look at the development of two in-hand skills of rotation. Three questions were asked: (a) Do boys' and girls' performance differ significantly? (b) Does performance improve with age? and (c) Can periods of rapid improvement with age be seen on the tasks presented?


The in-hand manipulation skill of rotation was measured in 154 right-handed children between the ages of 3-0 years and 6-11 years as well as in 13 adults. The participants were videotaped as they either turned over small pegs in a pegboard or rotated a peg in their fingertips. The number of pegs dropped when turning and placing them back in the board, the number of times a peg could be rotated in the fingertips, the time it took to complete each task, and the methods participate used to accomplish the two tasks were recorded from the videotapes.


The results indicated no differences between the performance of boys and girls on any of the variables studied, but performance did change with age, and periods of rapid change were identified. Further, when compared on methods used, the children did not achieve the same speed or consistency as the adult participants.


The development of in-hand manipulation skills of rotation involves improvement in the dimension of speed, method, and consistency. Observation of these skills in a child can add to a therapist's understanding of the child's fine motor abilities. The variability in children's performance needs to be considered in both evaluation and treatment planning.

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