Department of Health Sciences, Physiotherapy, Lund University
Date of issue 2016-10-08
Author(s) Elisabeth Ekstrand
Disability of the upper extremity is common after stroke. To be able to evaluate recovery and effects of interventions there is a need for stable and precise outcome measures. In order to design and target efficient rehabilitation interventions it is important to know which factors that affect the ability to perform daily hand activities. At the time when the studies in this thesis were planned there was limited knowledge of the psychometric properties of outcome measures for persons with mild to moderate impairments of the upper extremity after stroke. There was also a lack of knowledge of which daily hand activities these persons perceive difficult to perform and which factors are associated with the performance.
The overall aim of this thesis was to evaluate the psychometric properties of outcome measures for upper extremity after stroke, and to describe which daily hand activities persons with mild to moderate impairments in upper extremity after stroke perceive difficult to perform and identify associated factors with their performance.
In paper I – IV, between 43 and 45 participants were included. Muscle strength in the upper extremity, somatosensation (active touch), dexterity and self-perceived ability to perform daily hand activities were assessed twice, one to two weeks apart. In paper V, 75 participants were included and the evaluated measures of the upper extremity were used together with other stroke specific outcomes to cover important aspects of functioning and disability according to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Test-retest analyses for continuous data were made with the Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC), the Change in Mean, the Standard Error of Measurement (SEM) and the Smallest Real Difference (SRD) (Paper I, III and IV). For ordinal data the Kappa coefficient and the Elisabeth Svensson rank-invariant method were used (Paper II and III). For analyses of convergent validity the Spearman’s correlation coefficient (rho) was calculated (Paper III). The ability to perform daily hand activities and the associations with potential factors were evaluated by univariate and multivariate linear regression models (Study V).
The results showed that outcome measures for isometric and isokinetic muscle strength, active touch, dexterity and self-perceived daily hand activities have high test-retest agreements and can be recommended for persons with mild to moderate impairments in the upper extremity after stroke (Paper I to IV). Isometric strength measurements had lower measurement errors than isokinetic measurements and might be preferred (Paper I). The outcomes of dexterity showed learning effects (Paper III) and the ratings of perceived daily hand activities (Paper IV) had relatively high random measurement errors which must be taken into account when recovery and effects of interventions are evaluated. The three evaluated dexterity measures were partly related and can complement each other (Paper IV). Daily hand activities that require bimanual dexterity were perceived most difficult to perform, and dexterity and participation were the strongest contributing factors for performing daily hand activities after stroke (Paper V).
In conclusion, this thesis has shown that outcome measures assessing functioning and disability of upper extremity after stroke are reliable and can be used in clinical settings and research. To increase the ability to perform daily hand activities, dexterity and perceived participation, in particular, should be considered in the assessments, goal-settings and rehabilitation after stroke.