Objective. A commonly adhered to operating principle in occupational therapy clinics is that a person must exhibit 20 lb of grip strength before his or her hand is considered “functional” This study examined the relationship between hand and finger grip performances with the forces required to open common household containers.

Method. The grip and pinch strengths of 49 college students were obtained using dynamometry. The forces required to open six common household containers were measured using Force Sensing Resistors® attached to each container.

Results. Weak correlations were found (r = −.179 to r = .333) between grip and pinch strength performances and the forces used to operate the accessing mechanisms of the containers. Analyses of variances demonstrated significantly greater grip and pinch strength performances in men than in women (ps < .05) but no significant difference between the genders in the forces generated to open the containers (ps > .05).

Conclusions. In a normal population of college students, the premise that greater hand strength affords greater performance in accessing everyday household containers was not supported. Implications suggest that grip and pinch dynamometry are not conclusive evaluative tools for predicting hand function while opening a select group of containers. The relationship between traditional dynamometry and hand performance during a variety of functional tasks needs to be examined in clinical populations as well.

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