Grip strength and dexterity

Researcher: Alaster Yoxall

Cheese, biscuits, milk, jam, juices, cereals and condiments are typical items served in single portion packaging in hospitals around the world.  Packaged food has many roles and advantages; it must provide access to the contents as well as preserving them, it allows control of portion size and it can be easily stored and distributed.

Researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University identified unopened packaging as a possible source of malnutrition in older people whilst staying in hospital.

A series of studies has been undertaken including observation of and interviews with older people opening packaging. Researchers took measurements of grip strength and dexterity. Analysis showed that for some packs there was a strong correlation between low dexterity and an inability to open the pack.

More detailed analysis has been undertaken as part of a larger body of work to understand dexterity metrics and people’s perceived dexterity. To date research suggests that a large proportion of single portion packaging is unlikely to be fit for purpose.

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