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Hand Held Dynamometry: A better way to assess your strength?

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

When you think of strength testing you probably envision the PT or MD asking you to either hold or push as the clinician applies a force to determine muscle strength. Something about this just doesn’t seem accurate, and it turns out…. it’s probably not.




When testing muscle strength, variance between sides can be somewhat normal and/or expected. It’s highly unlikely that we will see perfect symmetrical strength in individuals from side to side. What makes this more difficult is that we don’t usually know someone’s baseline. Normally when we check someone’s strength, it’s in the presence of pain or dysfunction. Maybe we should have yearly PT checkups after all. I mean we do it for our teeth, so why don’t we do it for our bodies?


I regress.


What’s more significant, is that we often see limb asymmetries in post-operative patients, specifically with things like ACL surgery. Regaining quad control/strength is paramount after ACL reconstruction/repair. We strive to see 90% limb symmetry between sides. Even skilled clinicians struggle to differentiate grading strength and telling subtle differences during muscle strength testing.

As a way to improve our quality of care, and moving strength from a somewhat subjective measure to more objective, we began using a tool called a hand-held dynamometry. This device allows us to quantify the amount of force being exhibited by the patient. No more hearing “Yeah, it feels a little weaker on that side.”


I get it strength testing isn’t always significant, but in some cases, it can make a world of difference.


This is just one of the tools we used to more accurately assess our patient’s needs. Find a practitioner who finds ways to make you BETTER. We believe that you will find that at Better Performance Physical Therapy because we aren’t just built different, we are built BETTER.


- Brian

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