A framework of children's hand skills for assessment and intervention

Chi-Wen Chien, T. Brown, R. McDonald

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Hand skill development or mastery has a huge influence on children's early development and participation in everyday activities. Assessment of difficulties with children's hand skills typically involves a systematic process considering all potential factors that may impact on hand skills. This helps identify key hand skill difficulties and select specific interventions that are relevant to the individual child. This paper describes the development of the Children's Hand Skills Framework (CHSF) that can be used as a conceptual guide to analyse and describe children's hand skills in the assessment and intervention process. Methods: A comprehensive literature review of the existing hand skill models and instruments was conducted to develop the CHSF content, and experts' reviews via an evaluation feedback questionnaire were used as a means to validate the CHSF. Results: The literature review revealed that the functional repertoire of children's hand skills can be divided into six distinct categories. Manual gesture and body contact hand skills are two categories, in which the hands do not make contact with any object. Arm-hand use, adaptive skilled hand use and bimanual use are object-related hand skill categories where the hands do contact objects. The final category is related to the general quality of children's hand skills. Each of the six hand skill categories can be further broken down into three to seven subcategories. The feedback from the experts further demonstrated high levels of agreement for the inclusion of the CHSF subcategories. Conclusions: The CHSF offers a helpful guide to comprehensively describe the complexity of children's hand skills in the assessment process and has the potential to enhance and promote communication about functional use of children's hand skills among professionals. The CHSF is also conceptually compatible with the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health, providing a holistic consideration of both children's hand skills and relevant International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health factors for further assessment and intervention planning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873-884
Number of pages12
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Children
  • Framework
  • Hand skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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