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Background: Geriatric patients with low skeletal muscle mass and strength generally have a relatively poor clinical outcome following acute illness. Therefore, it is recommended to routinely assess skeletal muscle mass and strength in patients admitted to the acute care geriatric ward. Handgrip strength is generally measured as a proxy for muscle strength and/or functional performance. Objective: To compare the applicability and test-retest reliability of measuring handgrip strength using the Jamar dynamometer and the Martin Vigorimeter in geriatric patients during hospitalization. Design: A total of 96 geriatric patients (age 85 5 y) admitted to the acute care geriatric ward participated in this study. Handgrip strength was assessed 3 times on 2 different occasions within 1 week of hospital admission using both the Jamar dynamometer and the Martin Vigorimeter. Results: Maximal handgrip strength as determined over the 3 successive attempts performed on 2 occasions averaged 17 7 kg and 35 13 kPa when using the Jamar dynamometer and Martin Vigorimeter, respectively. Handgrip strength was significantly greater when using the dominant versus nondominant hand using both the Jamar dynamometer (17 7 kg vs 16 7 kg; P ¼ .003) and Martin Vigorimeter (34 12 kPa vs 33 13 kPa; P ¼ .022). Test-retest reliability showed an ICC of 0.94 and 0.92 when applying the Jamar dynamometer or Martin Vigorimeter, respectively (both P < .001). Furthermore, handgrip strength assessed with the Jamar and Martin Vigorimeter showed a strong correlation for both the first (r ¼ 0.83, P < .001) and second measurement (r ¼ 0.79, P < .001). Almost 80% of the geriatric patients needed help from nursing staff with transfer from bed to an arm-rested chair measuring handgrip strength with the Jamar dynamometer according to the Southampton protocol, which is not necessary when using the Martin Vigorimeter. Conclusion: The Martin Vigorimeter represents a reliable and more practical tool than the Jamar dynamometer to assess handgrip strength in the geriatric patient on admission to the acute geriatric ward.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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