Aim: Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a genetic neuropathy causing muscle weakening in the feet, legs and hands, with consequent impairment of ambulation and handgrip. For fast clinical evaluation and rehabilitation management of handgrip deficits, a functional classification in 4 stages or levels of clinical severity, based on the loss of handgrip types from the finest to the roughest, has been recently proposed. The aim of this study is to evaluate the prevalence of each level of handgrip impairment in a wide population of patients affected with demyelinating and axonal CMT.
Methods: Two-hundred and forty-eight non-operated hands were examined to evaluate if and how the pinch between the pulp of the thumb and the pulp of the second or third finger was made, starting from the palm-up position with the fingers abducted or, in case of impossibility to do so, if a lateral pinch or only a grasp was possible. Following to this observation, each hand was fitted in 1 of the 4 stages described in the above-mentioned classification and then the frequency of each stage was determined.
Results: As a whole, 75.4% hands were at stage 1; 9.7 were at stage 2; 10.9% at stage 3; 4% at stage 4.
Conclusions: The results of this survey reveal that, in the majority of the CMT cases, handgrip is affected mildly so that only simple recommendations to prevent further muscle and joint damage are required; however, in more than 1 out 5 cases, the handrip impairment is quite severe and requires a detailed rehabilitative program with daily exercises, and, in a small number of cases, is so severe that independence in the daily living activities is lost or very reduced.