In-Hand Manipulation Skills: What are they?

In-hand Manipulation refers to the ability to move and position one or more objects within one hand without using the other hand to assist. Below, are explanations of the terminology often used for In-Hand Manipulation Skills.

In-Hand Manipulation Examples:

Translation: Refers to the linear movement of the object or objects from the palm to the fingers or the fingers to the palm.piggy bank

  • Picking up marbles with the fingers and thumb and moving them into the palm.
  • Moving coins from the palm of the hand to the finger tips to insert into a piggy bank.

Shift: Refers to linear movement of an object on the finger surface to allow repositioning of the object on the pads of the fingers.

  • Adjusting the pencil grip so that the fingers are on the tip of the pencil.
  • Dressing skills including snaps, lacing, and buttoning.

Complex Rotation: Refers to the turning or rolling of an object with finger pads between180-360 degrees.

  • Turning a pencil to use the eraser

Simple Rotation:  Refers to the turning or rolling of an object with finger pads no more than approximately 90 degrees.

  • Unscrewing a bottle cap
  • Puzzles

Why are In-Hand Manipulation skills important?

In-hand manipulation skills are important in the efficiency of every day tasks such as:

  • Drawing
  • Handwriting
  • Cutting with Scissors
  • Eating with a fork, knife, and spoon
  • Dressing skills such as buttons, zippers, and snaps
  • Manipulating small objects for crafts and games

Children who are experiencing difficulties with in-hand manipulation, may be observed using both hands for skills that should only take one hand, changing or transferring objects to the other hand for repositioning, and/or may hold an object against their body during activities.

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