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Exp Brain Res. 2016 Jan;234(1):83-93. doi: 10.1007/s00221-015-4440-4. Epub 2015 Sep 16.

Use of a robotic device to measure age-related decline in finger proprioception.

Author information

1
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, 92697, USA. mingeman@uci.edu.
2
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, 92697, USA.
3
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, 92697, USA.
4
Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, 83844, USA.
5
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, 92697, USA.
6
Department of Neurology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, 92697, USA.

Abstract

Age-related changes in proprioception are known to affect postural stability, yet the extent to which such changes affect the finger joints is poorly understood despite the importance of finger proprioception in the control of skilled hand movement. We quantified age-related changes in finger proprioception in 37 healthy young, middle-aged, and older adults using two robot-based tasks wherein participants' index and middle fingers were moved by an exoskeletal robot. The first task assessed finger position sense by asking participants to indicate when their index and middle fingers were directly overlapped during a passive crisscross movement; the second task assessed finger movement detection by asking participants to indicate the onset of passive finger movement. When these tasks were completed without vision, finger position sense errors were 48 % larger in older adults compared to young participants (p < 0.05); proprioceptive reaction time was 78 % longer in older adults compared to young adults (p < 0.01). When visual feedback was provided in addition to proprioception, these age-related differences were no longer apparent. No difference between dominant and non-dominant hand performance was found for either proprioception task. These findings demonstrate that finger proprioception is impaired in older adults, and visual feedback can be used to compensate for this deficit. The findings also support the feasibility and utility of the FINGER robot as a sensitive tool for detecting age-related decline in proprioception.

KEYWORDS:

Aging; Finger function; Joint position sense; Proprioception; Robotic evaluation

PMID:
26378004
DOI:
10.1007/s00221-015-4440-4
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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