The Purdue Pegboard Test (PPT) by Tiffin and Asher (1948), is a test of upper extremity hand function originally designed to assist in the selection of employees in industrial jobs requiring manipulative dexterity, such as assembly, packing, operation of certain machines, and other routine manual jobs of an exacting nature during the manufacturing boom of the late 1940s in the United States. However, the PPT is now used in many work rehabilitation settings as well as patient populations where hand/finger dexterity is of primary concern. The pegboard itself is constructed of wood/plastic polymer that has 4 recessed cups at the top which hold the washers, pins, and collars to be assembled. The board itself is made of an acrylic polymer and is 23 × 11.5 inches where roughly at the center of the board are 2 vertical rows of 25 holes 1/8 inch in diameter designed to receive the assemblies (Desai, Kene, Doshi, Shubhangi, & Desai, 2006). The test measures dexterity for two types of activities, those involving gross movements of hand, fingers, and arms and the other involving the tips of the fingers. Unlike other pegboard tests the PPT requires more fine motor control as activities are more complex and include the placement of pins into a board as well as the assembly of collars and washers onto the pins (Tiffin & Asher, 1948). The PPT provides separate measurements for the right hand, left hand, and both hands together. Each of the 4 subtests take less than 1 minute to complete and scores are based on the number of placements and assemblies.
A study of subjects that were administered the 4 subtests of the PPT (n = 25) found that test-retest reliability coefficients ranged from 0.85 to 0.90 (1-trial administration) and 0.92 to 0.96 (for 3 trials) (Gallus & Mathiowetz, 2003). Results from a similar designed study of 47 occupational therapy students found that test-retest reliabilities for 1-test administration were only moderate for the 4 subtests (0.37 to 0.71), whereas the 3-trial administration had coefficients that ranged from 0.81 to 0.89 (Buddenberg & Davis, 2000). Original research found that correlations of subtest scores of 434 college men and women ranged from 0.50 to 0.69 (Tiffin & Asher, 1948). A study of healthy subjects found that as age increased performance generally decreased where results showed that young subjects inserted a mean of 16 pegs with the dominant hand, 15 pegs with the non-dominant hand, 27 pegs with both hands, and assembled 42 pieces; middle-aged subjects inserted a mean of 15 pegs with the dominant hand, 14 pegs with the non-dominant hand, 23 pegs with both hands, and assembled 33 pieces; and healthy elderly subjects had a mean score of 13 pegs with the dominant hand, 12 pegs with the non-dominant hand, 20 with both hands, and assembled 26 pieces (Amirjani, Ashworth, Olson, Morhart, & Chan, 2011). The following are further normative values relating to the PPT from a somewhat different population sample.
n = 600; age range = 5 to 65 years
Adapted from Desai, K., Kene, K., Doshi, M., Shubhangi, D. & Desai, S. (2006). Normative data of Purdue Pegboard on Indian population. The Indian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 37(3), 72.
There is a considerable amount of research available in support of its use in clinical practice and research. The manual provides detailed directions, scoring, and referenced norms across the lifespan. In addition, there are a number of studies that also provide age-valued norms. No special training is required and the test is portable for use in a variety of settings as well as a number of patient populations where dexterity is of concern. The PPT has been in existence in its present state since the 1940s.
The assessment requires a relatively higher degree of fine motor skills as well as cognitive ability making it more narrowly focused on smaller patient target populations. Studies have also suggested that group administration may lead to increased competitiveness and knowledge of scores can create a situation where subjects try to beat previous scores (Buddenberg & Davis, 2000).
The PPT has standardized instructions as well as scoring relative to the 4 types of subtests. For example, in the right hand test the client is instructed to pick up one pin at a time with the right hand from the right hand cup and place these pins in the right hand row, starting with the top hole (Tiffin& Asher, 1948). The person is scored by how many pins can be successfully placed in 30 seconds. The left hand test requires the same procedure described except activities occur on left side of the board with the left hand. The both hands subtest requires the client to use a combination of the right and left hand tests mentioned above. The person is allowed 30 seconds to place as many pairs of pins as possible. The assembly test requires minutiae finger dexterity and consists of assembling the pins, collars, and washers where a complete assembly calls for (1) pin placement, (2) washer on pin, (3) collar on washer, and (4) a second washer placed on top (Tiffin & Asher,1948). As the final washer for the first assembly is being placed with the left hand the second assembly is immediately started by picking up another pin with the right hand placing it in the next hole; dropping a washer over it with the left hand; then a collar with the right hand, and so on, completing another assembly (Tiffin & Asher, 1948). The client is allowed 60 seconds to make as many assemblies as possible. Scores for assembly are based on the number of assemblies made (i.e., if 6 complete assemblies were made and the pin and first washer of the seventh assembly are properly placed at the end of the minute, the score is 24 plus 2 or 26) (Tiffin & Asher, 1948). The examiner’s manual has detailed instructions as well as scoring norms (ages 5 to 89 years old) from a number of studies involving large cohorts of people.
The PPT is a standardized measure that can be purchased from a number of therapy supply stores. Prices vary from $115 to $170. To use in research or publication contact where it can be purchased or where it has been published at the information that follows. More information can be found in the following articles:
Buddenberg, L., & Davis, C. (1999). Test–retest reliability of the Purdue Pegboard Test. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 54(5), 555-558.
Tiffin, J., & Asher, E. J. (1948). The Purdue Pegboard: Norms and studies of reliability and validity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 32, 234–47.
|POPULATION||Suspected hand/finger injury; work rehabilitation; general|
|TYPE OF MEASURE||Activity-based functional performance|
|WHAT IT ASSESSES||Fine motor; hand dexterity; cognitive component|
|TIME||< 10 minutes|
|COST||$115 to $170|
Lafayette Instrument Company
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