Evaluation of upper extremity motor function tests in tetraplegics

Spinal Cord. 2002 Feb;40(2):51-64. doi: 10.1038/sj.sc.3101261.


Objective: To provide an overview of arm-hand function tests useful in tetraplegic subjects. Considerations for selection of an appropriate test are also provided.

Data sources: A Medline literature search was conducted covering the period from 1967 to March 2001. Relevant references cited in the selected papers were also considered, regardless of the year of publication.

Study selection: This review was restricted to strength tests, functional and ADL tests. Only general tests and tests designed specifically to test tetraplegic persons written in English, or in Dutch were included in the review.

Results: Information is provided on four types of strength tests, 10 general and five specific functional tests and eight ADL tests.

Conclusion: Many tests are available to measure upper extremity motor function in tetraplegics. Selection of a test is at first determined by the outcome value in which the investigator is interested. When the type of outcome value has been determined, the most suitable test has to be selected from the range of available tests. When two tests appear to be equally suitable, the availability of information on psychometric properties of the test when used in tetraplegic patients is a decisive factor. When information on the reliability, validity and sensitivity of a test is missing, it should be gathered before using the test.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Arm / physiopathology*
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Psychometrics
  • Quadriplegia / physiopathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires