Results from electromyography assessments of leg and arm muscles was compared to basic physical performance tests such as gait speed, balance and hand-grip strength.
‘Hand-grip dynamometer is a tool that can be used to test progression of Parkinson's disease as it can easily record the decline in physical strength and function.’
"It became very clear that the hand-grip test was one of the functional tests that proved to be a reliable and valuable test measure," says Jakobi. "The hand-grip test is an easy and conclusive way to test muscle strength decline in this group of people."
The study involved 23 men and women with PD and 14 people without the disease, all 50 years or older living independently in Kelowna. The participants wore a portable monitoring device to measure muscle activity with the device recording electrical activity of muscles in the arms and legs for approximately eight hours. Participants also underwent three physical function tests--hand-grip, gait and balance--each morning and afternoon.
Jones says the data gleaned from the three physical tests was as conclusive and as informative as the lengthy recordings of muscle activity. And the tests were easier for participants and those administering the experiments.
"The hand-grip dynamometer is a tool that is easily accessible, easy to use, and is reliable," says Jones. "In addition they are readily available to health professionals such as family doctors, community therapists and physiotherapists."
"It seems these devices have come full circle and are back being used by clinicians," adds Jakobi. "It's a tool that is ideal for Parkinson's patients as you can easily record a decline in an individual's physical strength and function as the disease progresses."
Patients with PD suffer symptoms like uncontrollable shaking, slowness of movement, and eventually difficulty with balance, coordination and walking.
It's important for health care professionals to track early functional decline of Parkinson's patients, says Jakobi. In this way, individual health can be monitored and future falls related to the disease prevented.
- Jenn Jakobi and Gareth Jones, Hand-grip test can indicate decline in physical function of Parkinson's patients, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (2017).