BMC musculoskeletal disorders 2017 09 2618(1) 407 doi 10.1186/s12891-017-1764-1
Sensorimotor disturbances of the hand such as altered neuromuscular control and reduced proprioception have been reported for various musculoskeletal disorders. This can have major impact on daily activities such as dressing, cooking and manual work, especially when involving high demands on precision and therefore needs to be considered in the assessment and rehabilitation of hand disorders. There is however a lack of feasible and accurate objective methods for the assessment of movement behavior, including proprioception tests, of the hand in the clinic today. The objective of this observational cross- sectional study was to develop and conduct preliminary validation testing of a new method for clinical assessment of movement sense of the wrist using a laser pointer and an automatic scoring system of test results.
Fifty physiotherapists performed a tracking task with a hand-held laser pointer by following a zig-zag pattern as accurately as possible. The task was performed with left and right hand in both left and right directions, with three trials for each hand movement. Each trial was video recorded and analysed with a specifically tailored image processing pipeline for automatic quantification of the test. The main outcome variable was Acuity, calculated as the percent of the time the laser dot was on the target line during the trial.
The results showed a significantly better Acuity for the dominant compared to non-dominant hand. Participants with right hand pain within the last 12 months had a significantly reduced acuity (p < 0.05), and although not significant there was also a similar trend for reduced Acuity also for participants with left hand pain. Furthermore, there was a clear negative correlation between Acuity and Speed indicating a speed-accuracy trade off commonly found in manual tasks. The repeatability of the test showed acceptable intra class correlation (ICC2.1) values (0.68-0.81) and standard error of measurement values ranging between 5.0-6.3 for Acuity. CONCLUSIONS
The initial results suggest that the test may be a valid and feasible test for assessment of the movement sense of the hand. Future research should include assessments on different patient groups and reliability evaluations over time and between testers.