Jebsen Hand Function Test (JHFT)

Purpose of the measure

The Jebsen Hand Function Test (JHFT) is a standardized evaluative measure of functional hand motor skills (Hummel et al., 2005).

Available versions

The JHFT was developed in 1969 by Jebsen, Taylor, Treischmann, Trotter, and Howard (Cook, McCluskey, & Bowman, 2006). The JHFT is also referred to as the Jebsen-Taylor Hand Function Test or the Jebsen-Taylor Test of Hand Function.

A 3-item version (Modified Jebsen Hand Function Test, MJT) was developed by Bovend’Erdt et al. (2004) to measure gross functional dexterity in patients with moderate unilateral or bilateral upper limb impairment.

An 8-item Australian version was developed by Agnew and Maas (1982). It consists of the original 7 items with the addition of a grip strength item, measured using the Jamar dynamometer (Cook, McCluskey, & Bowman, 2006).

Features of the measure

The JHFT consists of 7 items that measure: (a) fine motor skills; (b) weighted functional tasks; and (c) non-weighted functional tasks (Jebsen et al., 1969):

  • Writing a short sentence (24 letters, 3rd grade reading difficulty)
  • Turning over a 3×5 inch card
  • Picking up small common objects
  • Simulated feeding
  • Stacking checkers
  • Picking up large light cans
  • Picking up large heavy cans

Administration guidelines specify that testing begin with the non-dominant hand (Jebsen et al., 1969). Further details about the administration procedures of the JHFT can be found in the original article by Jebsen et al. (1969).

Items of the Modified Jebsen Hand Function Test (MJT) (Bovend’Erdt et al., 2004):

  • Turning over 5 cards
  • Stacking 4 cones
  • Spooning 5 kidney beans into a bowl (simulated feeding)

Each item is scored according to time taken to complete the task. Times are rounded to the nearest second (Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Evidence, 2010). The scores for all 7 items are then summed for a total score. Jebsen et al. (1969) established norms with a sample of 300 healthy subjects of different age groups (20-29 years, 30-39 years, 40-49 years, 50-59 years, 60-94 years). With the exception of writing, all items took under 10 seconds to perform. See Jebsen et al. (1969) for norms according to age, gender and hand use (dominant/non-dominant).

What to consider before beginning
It is necessary to identify the patient’s dominant hand before beginning the JHFT. When working with patients with stroke it is recommended to take into consideration the area(s) of cortical insult, as damage to areas of the brain responsible for speech and language function may affect performance on the writing task (Celink et al., 2007). Prior to beginning the writing task, individuals should be reminded to use reading glasses if necessary (Jebsen et al., 1969).

The JHFT requires 15 – 45 minutes to complete.

Training requirements
No specific training is required.

The JHFT does not require standardized equipment but the following equipment is used (Jebsen et al., 1969):

  • wooden board (41 1/2 inches long x 11 1/4 inches wide x 3/4 inch thick)
  • ball point pen
  • 8×11 inch sheets unruled paper
  • 5×8 inch index cards
  • 3×5 inch index cards
  • 1 pound coffee can
  • 1 inch paper clips
  • teaspoon
  • 5 kidney beans
  • standard size wooden checkers
  • 5 empty 303 cans
  • 5 full (1 pound) 303 cans.

Test equipment can be collated by the clinician or purchased as pre-packaged assessment kits from suppliers including:

Client suitability

Can be used with:
Clients with neurological or musculoskeletal conditions, e.g. stroke, spinal cord injury, arthritis (Cook, McCluskey, & Bowman, 2006).
This assessment has been administered in clients ? 8 years of age (Cook, McCluskey, & Bowman, 2006).

Should not be used with:
Individuals with speech and language disorders may have difficulty understanding instructions.
The writing task can be excluded for individuals with speech and language difficulties due to dominant cerebral hemisphere stroke (Beebe & Lang, 2009, 2007; Hummel et al., 2005).

Languages of the measure

– English
– Portuguese (Ferreiro, dos Santos, & Conforto, 2010)