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Normative Values for Two-Point Discrimination in the Young-Old, Middle-Old, and Old-Old

1 May 2004


Background and purpose. The purpose of establishing normative data in two-point discrimination tests with the geriatric population is to have age-associated information to assist in the diagnosis and interventions necessary for the older population. Hence, the purpose of this study was to develop normative data of two-point discrimination in the Young-old (65-74), Middle-old (75-84), and Old-old (85 and older) population.

Methods. One hundred seventy-two subjects were recruited to establish a normative range of tactile discrimination in the forearm, hand and lower extremity. A Disk-Criminator™ was used as the instrument to measure two-point discrimination. The subjects were asked to give their best response of "one point" or "two points" as the stimulus was applied to their skin.

Results. There was no variability in the forearm, lateral wrist, and lower extremity between gender and age. Variability and significant differences (p < 0.05) between age and gender were found in the hand.

Conclusion and Discussion. This study adds support to the hypothesis that tactile discrimination decreases overall with more significant declines seen with increasing age. The fingertips have proven to be more discriminative than the forearm and lower extremities. As expected, there is a relationship between age and tactile discriminative thresholds. This relationship is apparently not attributable to the compliance of the skin, but to some factor or factors associated with age itself.


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