Background: Little is known about how peripheral nerve injury affects human performance, behavior, and life. Hand use choices are important for rehabilitation after unilateral impairment, but rarely measured, and are not changed by the normal course of rehabilitation and daily life. Objective: To identify the relationship between hand use (L/R choices), motor performance, and patient-centered outcomes. Methods: Participants (n = 48) with unilateral peripheral nerve injury were assessed for hand use via Block Building Task, Motor Activity Log, and Edinburgh Handedness Inventory; dexterity (separately for each hand) via Nine-Hole Peg Test, Jebsen Taylor Hand Function Test, and a precision drawing task; patient-centered outcomes via surveys of disability, activity participation, and health-related quality of life; and injury-related factors including injury cause and affected nerve. Factor Analysis of Mixed Data was used to explore relationships between these variables. The data were analyzed under 2 approaches: comparing dominant hand (DH) versus non-dominant hand (NH), or affected versus unaffected hand. Results: The data were best explained by 5 dimensions. Good patient outcomes were associated with NH performance, DH performance (separately and secondarily to NH performance), and preserved function and use of the affected hand; whereas poor patient outcomes were associated with preserved but unused function of the affected hand. Conclusion: After unilateral peripheral nerve injury, hand function, hand usage, and patient life arise from a complex interaction of many factors. To optimize rehabilitation after unilateral impairment, new rehabilitation methods are needed to promote performance and use with the NH, as well as the injured hand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-147
Number of pages14
JournalNeurorehabilitation and neural repair
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • hand dominance
  • lateralization
  • manual dexterity
  • peripheral nerve injury
  • quality of life


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