Background: Deficits in finger proprioception might impact the ability to perform tasks such as picking up pills, monitoring blood sugar and injecting insulin. However, no tests are available for finger proprioception with functional relevance for tasks using pinch between the index finger and thumb. This study investigates the impact of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) on pinch proprioception in people with type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Methods: This study tested pinch proprioception in 8 healthy participants (3 males, 57±5.6 years), 11 participants with T2D without DPN (T2D-only) (5 males, 61±5.9 years), and 13 participants with T2D and DPN (T2D+DPN) (6 males, 59.9±6.4 years). We used a device previously tested for reliability. Following familiarization with a 15° target position of the index finger and thumb, subjects performed 3 trials where they attempted to reproduce the target position without visual feedback. The average of the absolute error matching the 15° target represented accuracy, and the standard deviation from the trials denoted precision.

Results: Descriptive statistics presented as Means ± SD. Accuracy: healthy (0.67±0.64), T2D-only (0.94±1.2), and T2D+DPN (3.51±2.24).

Precision: healthy (0.59±0.41), T2D-only (0.79±0.53), and T2D+DPN (2.81±2.4). Kruskal-Wallis test was significant for accuracy (p = .003) and precision (p = .001). Pinch proprioception was significantly different between the T2D+DPN group and the T2D-only group (accuracy and precision: p = .003) as well as between the T2D+DPN group and the healthy group (accuracy: p = .006; precision: p = .001). There were no significant differences between the T2D-only group and the healthy group: accuracy (p = .98) and precision (p = .5).

Conclusion: Our results showed that pinch proprioception was disrupted in people with DPN, but not in people with T2D without DPN. Detection of pinch proprioceptive deficits will potentially improve the neurological screening and can be used in future studies for other neurological populations.


A. Yahya: None. P. Kluding: None. M. Pasnoor: None. M. Santos: None.

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