A team of bioengineering students from Rice University developed a device to measure the strength of intrinsic hand muscles (thenar, hypothenar, interosseus and lumbrical muscles). The Peg Restrained Intrinsic Muscle Evaluator, or PRIME, was created to replace the common test where the patient pulls and pushes at the doctor’s hands and fingers. The real goal is to quantify finger/muscle strength for a more accurate diagnosis for carpal tunnel syndrome evaluation and other disorders.
Rice University reports:
The device has three elements: a pegboard restraint, a force transducer enclosure and a PDA custom-programmed to capture measurements.
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.” PRIME integrates with existing systems in a manner compliant with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA, he said.
Xu hopes it will help hospitals and rehabilitation clinics compare the effectiveness of surgical interventions and diagnose neuromuscular degenerative diseases.