Measuring change in somatosensation across the lifespan

Winnie Dunn, James W. Griffith, Dory Sabata, Mary T. Morrison, Joy C. MacDermid, Amy Darragh, Roseann Schaaf, Brian Dudgeon, Lisa Tabor Connor, Leeanne Carey, Jennifer Tanquary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. The study aim was to determine natural variability in somatosensation across age groups using brief measures. We validated measures in a community-dwelling population as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Toolbox for Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function (NIH Toolbox; METHOD. Participants included community-dwelling children and adults (N = 367, ages 3-85 yr) across seven sites. We tested haptic recognition, touch detection-discrimination, and proprioception using brief affordable measures as required by the NIH Toolbox. RESULTS. Accuracy improved from young children to young adults; from young to older adults, the pattern reversed slightly. We found significant differences between adults and older adults. One proprioception test (kinesthesia; p =.003) showed gender differences (females more accurate). We provide expected score ranges for age groups as a basis for understanding age-related expectations for somatosensory perception. CONCLUSION. The age-related patterns of somatosensory perception from this study refine decision making about performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6903290020
JournalAmerican Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy


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