Is there a relationship between light touch-pressure sensation and functional hand ability?

Hanna Melchior, Jean Jacques Vatine, Patrice L. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose. To investigate and compare the level of light touch-pressure sensation as tested via the Semmes Weinstein monofilament (SWM) test with the level of functional hand ability. Methods. Twenty-seven persons with isolated sensory deficit due to leprosy and 31 healthy controls were tested in the Occupational Therapy department of a hospital for patients with Hansen's disease. Palmar light touch thresholds were determined by SMW testing. Functional hand ability was tested via the Jebsen-Taylor Hand Function Test (JTHFT) and the Functional Dexterity Test (FDT). All participants were measured by manual muscle testing (MMT) to exclude any motor impairment. Data analysis compared sensory thresholds and level of functional hand ability between the two groups and examined the relationship between the variables. Results. In the group with sensory deficit, the sensory thresholds were significantly higher than in the control group. Significant correlations were found between the sensory thresholds measured by the SWM test and the FDT and JTHFT scores, with higher correlations found for tasks entailing manipulation of small objects. Conclusions. The findings support the existence of a relationship between sensory light touch thresholds tested by the Semmes Weinstein monofilaments (SWMs) and hand function. However, the SWM test alone is not sufficient as an indicator of hand function and must therefore be supplemented with other hand function tests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-575
Number of pages9
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2007


  • Hand function
  • Light touch sensation
  • Semmes Weinstein monofilament test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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