In this project, we are using a family-centered, home-based approach to objectively and quantitatively assess the development of hand grasp in infants at risk for fine motor delay, and predict the future diagnosis of delay. Undiagnosed motor delay can prevent the timely use of early interventions, and lead to motor disabilities throughout life. Through biweekly in-home assessments administered by the infants’ parents/caregivers, we are learning about the development of spontaneous hand use in infants 12-52 weeks of age through 3D video capture, while at the same time measuring their interactive grasp force with a specially instrumented toy: the Hand Use and Grasp Sensor (HUGS) system .
Fourteen infant-caregiver pairs advised us during the pilot phase of HUGS design and development in 2019-2020 to ensure that both the toy and the process for deploying it to collect infant grasp data were optimized for home use. HUGS provides biofeedback of the infant’s own grasp force through different sensory channels, including touch (vibration), vision (lights), and hearing (sounds), to learn whether each infant is able to integrate sensory feedback into an adaptive hand grasp. This information could signal potential avenues for early interventions to encourage object exploration and functional hand use.
HUGS was redesigned as HUGS-2 implementing criteria identified by families during the pilot. HUGS-2 is currently deployed in infants' homes to gather additional motion and force data. The next phase of HUGS design and testing (HUGS-3) will involve a handheld grasp sensor controlled by an app on the parent/caregiver's smartphone. Follow our work as we develop and test HUGS-3 2022-2023 at our development and learning site: HUGS-Lab.org.
Threefold: (1) the Hand Use and Grasp Sensor (HUGS) system, a home-based assessment tool for infant grasp development, (2) typically developing norms for the HUGS system, and (3) software to use HUGS outcomes to predict fine motor delay at 1 year of age in at-risk infants.