Objective. Five styles of commercial static wrist extensor orthoses were compared to determine whether any style, or styles, afforded better power grip strength or finger dexterity. Because wrist extensor orthoses are intended for use during functional tasks, their influence on hand function is of great importance.

Method. Twenty-three right-hand-dominant women without upper extremity dysfunction participated in this crossover study. Dominant-hand finger dexterity and power grip strength were evaluated while wearing each of five commercial orthoses–Kendall–Futuro #33® (Futuro), AliMed Freedom Long® (AliMed Long), AliMed Freedom Short® (AliMed Short), Smith & Nephew Rolyan D-Ring® (Rolyan), and LMB Wrist Rest® (LMB) –and while using the dominant hand without an orthosis (free hand). Finger dexterity was assessed with the unimanual subtest of the Purdue Pegboard. Grip strength was assessed with a Jamar® hydraulic dynamometer.

Results. Four of the study orthoses (Futuro, AliMed Short, Rolyan, and LMB) afforded finger dexterity that did not differ significantly from that of the free hand. The AliMed Long orthosis slowed finger speed when compared with the speeds afforded by both the LMB orthosis and the free hand.

The Rolyan orthosis permitted a power grip strength that was not significantly different from the free hand. The other four commercial orthoses reduced grip strength when compared with the strength observed when wearing a Rolyan orthosis and when gripping with a free hand.

Conclusion. The five styles of commercial orthoses affect power grip and finger dexterity differently. When power grip or finger dexterity are priorities, differences among the orthoses furnish grounds for initial suggestions, although medical needs and patient preference should be the overriding factors in the final selection of an orthosis.

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