Research Article|Articles in Press

Kinematic evaluation and reliability assessment of the Nine Hole Peg Test for manual dexterity

Published:February 26, 2022DOI:


      • The Nine Hole Peg Test is one of the most used tools to assess manual dexterity.
      • Kinematic indexes during Nine Hole Peg Test were reliable.
      • Jerk revealed the best discriminant validity between dominant and non-dominant arms.
      • Kinematic indexes may help detection of subtle manual dexterity changes.
      • Kinematic indexes may provide characteristics of upper limb motor impairments.



      The Nine Hole Peg Test (NHPT) is one of the most frequently used tools to assess manual dexterity. However, no kinematic parameters are provided to describe the quality of the motor performance, since time is the only score.


      To investigate test-retest and intra-rater reliability, correlation with clinical test score, and discriminant validity of kinematic indexes during NHPT.

      Study Design

      A clinical measurement study.


      Twenty-five healthy right-handed volunteers performed the NHPT. An experienced physiotherapist administered two sessions at a 6-hour interval with two trials for dominant and non-dominant upper limbs. An optoelectronic system was used to detect NHPT performance, which was divided into nine consecutive peg-grasp, peg-transfer, peg-in-hole, hand-return phases, and one final removing phase. Outcome measures were total and single phases times, normalized jerk, mean, peak and time-to-peak of velocity, curvature index during peg-grasp and hand-return phases, and trunk 3D displacement. The statistical analysis included Intraclass Correlation Coefficients (ICCs) for test-retest and intra-rater reliability, Pearson's coefficients for correlation with the NHPT score, and paired t-tests for discriminant validity.


      Test-retest reliability was excellent for trunk rotation (ICC: 0.91) and good to moderate for the other indexes (ICCs: 0.89-0.61). Intra-rater reliability was excellent for total and removing times (ICCs: 0.91 and 0.94) and good to moderate for the other indexes (ICCs: 0.84-0.66), except for trunk inclination (ICC: 0.37). NHPT phases, normalized jerk, mean velocity, peak of velocity, time-to-peak and curvature index correlated with total time (r-score: 0.8-0.3). NHPT phases and most kinematic indexes discriminated the dominant from non-dominant upper limb, with the greatest effect size for normalized jerk during hand-return (d = 1.16).


      Kinematic indexes during NHPT can be considered for manual dexterity assessment. These indexes may allow for the detection of kinematic changes responsible for NHPT score variations in healthy subjects or patients with upper limb impairments.


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