Doctors may soon use devices like this to obtain precise measurements of hand muscle strength. Developed by bioengineering students at Rice University, the unit promises to present docs with actual hard data that will lead to swifter diagnoses, especially carpal tunnel syndrome. (Many health practitioners currently opt for the more subjective, manual tests like when a doc grabs your hand and asks you to push back.)
Known as PRIME (Peg Restrained Intrinsic Muscle Evaluator), the unit has just has three main components: "pegboard restraint, a force transducer enclosure and a PDA custom-programmed to capture measurements."
Here's how it works, per Rice:
In a five-minute test, a doctor uses pegs to isolate a patient's individual fingers. "You wouldn't think it works as well as it does, but once you are pegged in, you can't move anything but the finger we want you to," Miller said. A loop is fitted around the finger, and when the patient moves it, the amount of force generated is measured. "PRIME gets the peak force," Xu said. "Then the doctor can create a patient-specific file with all your information, time-stamped, and record every single measurement.".