2020 Pediatric Research Forum Poster Session

Semmes Weinstein sensory testing at the fingertip: Should 2.83 be the norm?

Emily Moore
Ogochukwu Nwagbologu
Samantha Specht
Patricia Siegel, University of New Mexico Occupational Therapy Graduate Program

Presented at the Annual Pediatric Research Forum Poster session. Contact Emily Moore ELMoore@sauld.unm.edu for questions.


The Semmes-Weinstein monofilament test (SWM) is an objective test of sensation that is commonly used to identify sensory impairments in the hand. Objective: To determine if male and female subjects aged 25 and older with no history of sensory symptoms or known neurologic conditions would feel the 2.83 (normal) Semmes Weinstein monofilament, and if a relationship between the detected monofilament and grip strength exists. Outcome Measures: Ability to detect the 2.83 (normal) monofilament at the fingertip. Participants were dichotomized into two groups: the 2.83 “normal” (ability to detect the 2.83 monofilament in three or more digits) and the 3.61 “diminished” group (three or more digits with the 3.61 monofilament). Secondary outcome was grip strength. Results: 80 participants (800 digits) completed the evaluations. Using traditional SMW testing and scoring procedures, 48.75% could detect one out of three touches with the 2.83 monofilament and 51.25% could not detect the 2.83 monofilament but could detect the 3.61 monofilament. Grip strength between the “diminished” and “normal” groups were significantly different in the left hand, 3.61 having higher grip strength, but not for the right. Using 2/3 positive responses, 31.2% were dichotomized into the “normal” group and 68.8% were dichotomized into the “diminished sensation” group. Grip strength was statistically higher in the 3.61 group compared to the 2.83 group for both hands (p<0.05). Conclusion: The inability of the majority of subjects to feel the 2.83 monofilament may indicate the need for further refinement of the Semmes-Weinstein monofilament test and investigation into the redefinition of the norms. Because participants who did not feel the 2.83 monofilament had statistically significant higher grip strength, occult neuropathy would not likely explain these findings. Further investigation is needed with a larger sample size and the assessment of characteristics such as vibration and pressure. Authors have no disclosures