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In-hand manipulation

In-hand manipulation is the term used to describe the ability to move a small object around within a single hand. It is an essential component of the development of fine motor control. Good fine motor control enables you to carry out such tasks as holding pencils, fastening small buttons, using cutlery and being able to tie your shoelaces.

There are three distinct movements required to develop in-hand manipulation skills. They develop in the order listed below. You require all 3 movement types in order to be able to manipulate tools and objects effectively:

This describes the movements of an object from the finger tips to the palm of the hand, e.g. collecting coins into the palm, and from the palm back to the finger tips, e.g. bringing in coins forward to the finger tips to place in a slot machine.

This is used to make the final adjustment of an object between the fingers and thumb ready for use, e.g. positioning of a pencil before use.

This is movement of an object in more than one plane. It is done simply by making alternating movements between the thumb and the fingers.

The following exercises are a good way of helping in-hand manipulation to develop. They should be carried out by both hands in turn, but always start with the dominant or preferred (writing) hand. These skills develop in a particular order and the exercises below are listed in sequence.

It is recommended that this programme be carried out a minimum of 3 times a week in 10 minute slots for a 3 week period.