Orthoses that are used to stabilize, protect, and support the wrist during functional activities often interfere with normal movement and, therefore, with hand function. This study compared the manual dexterity and grip strength of 20 female subjects while using a free hand and while wearing each of four wrist extensor orthoses: a Futuro prefabricated wrist brace (No. 33), a volar thumbhole orthosis, a volar orthosis with a radial connector bar, and a dorsal orthosis with distal transverse arch support.
Of these orthoses, the Futuro prefabricated wrist brace afforded the best overall dexterity, although it was significantly slower (p < .05) than the other orthoses in a writing subtest. Of the custom-made orthoses, the volar style with radial connector bar afforded the best overall dexterity.
All of the orthoses significantly (p < .01) reduced grip strength. The Futuro prefabricated wrist brace afforded the strongest grip strength of the four orthoses studied, and the volar thumbhole orthosis permitted the strongest grip among the custom-made orthotic styles.