What is it? The muscle strength of the hands and fingers can be classified into two categories: grip strength (whole hand) and pinch strength (the thumb and fingers).

Why is it important? Adequate hand strength is necessary to be able to participate in and endure through completing occupations across the lifespan, such as:  

  • Activities of daily life (bathing, grooming, toileting, feeding, dressing) 
  • Academic performance (writing, cutting, manipulating utensils) 
  • Home management 
  • Health management 
  • Job performance 
  • Play and leisure activities 
  • Meal preparation and grocery shopping 

5 activities to try at home:

  Dr Laura Mraz and hand strength

1. Feeding the tennis ball animal.   Tip: Make a tennis ball into whatever animal you prefer and feed it small objects such as pompoms, cotton balls, beads, beans, etc. Have your child squeeze the tennis ball to open the mouth!

  Dr Laura Mraz and hand strength

2. Ripping paper and crumbling it into balls to toss at targets.  Tip: See how many balls they can make in a given time! 

Dr Laura Mraz and hand strength

3. Playing with spray bottles.  Tip: Try watering plants with the spray bottle or playing water tag.

  Dr Laura Mraz and Hand strength

4. Playing with play-doh or putty.  Tip: Try using biscuit dough if you do not have play-doh or putty. Your child can squeeze it, pinch it, roll it: get creative!

  Dr Laura Mraz and hand strength

5. Picking up small preferred toys/objects with tongs.  Tip: Try using clothespins, tweezers, or clips if you do not have tongs. 

References  American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl. 1), S1-S48.

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