Assessing Additional Characteristics of Muscle Function With Digital Handgrip Dynamometry and Accelerometry: Framework for a Novel Handgrip Strength Protocol

Ryan McGrath, Grant R. Tomkinson, Brian C. Clark, Peggy M. Cawthon, Matteo Cesari, Soham Al Snih, Donald A. Jurivich, Kyle J. Hackney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Maximal handgrip strength (HGS) is a convenient and reliable, but incomplete, assessment of muscle function. Although low HGS is a powerful predictor of poor health, several limitations to maximal HGS exist. The predictive value of HGS is restricted because low HGS is associated with a wide range of unspecified health conditions, and other characteristics of muscle function aside from strength capacity are not evaluated. Current HGS protocol guidelines emphasize the ascertainment of maximal force, which is only a single muscle function characteristic. Muscle function is intrinsically multivariable, and assessing other attributes in addition to strength capacity will improve screenings for age-related disabilities and diseases. Digital handgrip dynamometers and accelerometers provide unique opportunities to examine several aspects of muscle function beyond strength capacity, while also maintaining procedural ease. Specifically, digital handgrip dynamometry and accelerometry can assess the rate of force development, submaximal force steadiness, fatigability, and task-specific tremoring. Moreover, HGS protocols can be easily refined to include an examination of strength asymmetry and bilateral strength. Therefore, evaluating muscle function with new HGS technologies and protocols may provide a more comprehensive assessment of muscle function beyond maximal strength, without sacrificing feasibility. This Special Article introduces a novel framework for assessing multiple attributes of muscle function with digital handgrip dynamometry, accelerometry, and refinements to current HGS protocols. Such framework may aid in the discovery of measures that better predict and explain age-related disability, biological aging, and the effects of comorbid diseases that are amenable to interventions. These additional HGS measures may also contribute to our understanding of concepts such as resilience. Using sophisticated HGS technologies that are currently available and modernizing protocols for developing a new muscle function assessment may help transform clinical practice by enhancing screenings that will better identify the onset and progression of the disabling process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2313-2318
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Aging
  • geriatric assessment
  • muscle strength
  • muscle weakness
  • physical functional performance
  • sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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