What is a finger dexterity test and what does it entail?

By John Hawes | Last updated: May 23, 2019

Dexterity explained

Dexterity refers to the motor skill abilities in a person's hands. These are also referred to as fine motor skills. This is because they involve the use of small muscles in the hands and fingers. Essentially, dexterity requires the motor coordination of the hands and fingers with the eyes to produce a desired movement.

A certain degree of finger dexterity is required when manipulating small objects. In everyday life, finger dexterity is required for tasks such as doing up and undoing buttons, or using a knife and fork or chopsticks.

Finger dexterity in the workplace

A person may need to place, turn, pinch, push or pick up small objects as part of their job tasks. In the workplace, finger dexterity is required for tasks such as turning pages, typing, writing, pushing buttons, or operating intricate machinery.

Professions that involve a high level of manual dexterity require the worker or professional to be able to execute and repeat certain movements accurately. High levels of manual dexterity are required for surgeons, dentists, pilots and mechanics. Administrative positions like personal assistants also require good levels of finger dexterity in order to be able to type quickly and effectively.

Why use a finger dexterity test?

Finger dexterity tests help to evaluate the fine motor skill abilities of individuals. This is important in order to determine the suitability of an individual for a job that relies on fine motor skills. For this reason, testing can be used as a pre-employment screening tool.

Dexterity tests are also used in physical therapy. The tests enable therapists to measure the rehabilitation progress of an individual and provide appropriate treatment.

What finger dexterity tests are available and what do they involve?

There are a number of finger dexterity tests available. Some must be carried out by doctors or physical therapists. Others may come in a kit form and do not require professional training in order to administer. The tests may involve a number of steps including observation, palpation and various movement assessments.

The Minnesota Rate of Manipulation test is one type of finger dexterity test. It assesses speed and accuracy when turning and placing objects. It may be used in a rehabilitation or disability evaluation setting.

The Purdue pegboard test also has a fine motor skill component to the test. It could be used in an occupational therapy setting, and also for pre-employment screening.

The O'Connor finger dexterity test requires a person to stick pins in a board containing multiple holes. It is another option for employers to consider when job tasks require a high level of manual dexterity.

A workplace employer who is considering the use of manual dexterity tests should evaluate the relevance of each available test for the applicable job role. This will enable them to select the most appropriate test to use in pre-employment screening.

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Ergonomics Fit for Work Testing Workplace Testing 101 Functional Capacity Testing Physical Demands Analysis Pre-work Evaluations Employment

Written by John Hawes

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John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

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