Hand-grip test can indicate decline in physical function of Parkinson's patients

February 1, 2017, University of British Columbia
UBC researchers Jenn Jakobi, sitting, and Gareth Jones, right, review results from recent electromyography tests on patients with Parkinson's disease with their student researchers. Credit: UBC Okanagan

UBC researchers Jenn Jakobi and Gareth Jones, both Health and Exercise Sciences professors at UBC's Okanagan campus, recently completed a study that examined the methods used to monitor the progressive advancement of Parkinson's disease (PD)—a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system.

The study compared results from electromyography assessments of leg and arm muscles to basic physical performance tests such as gait speed, balance and hand-grip strength. The results were surprising.

"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 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 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.

According to Statistics Canada more than 67,000 Canadians are living with Parkinson's today, and it is mostly diagnosed in men over the age of 45.

The study was recently published in the journal Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Explore further: Study reveals association between physical function and neurological disease

Related Stories

Study reveals association between physical function and neurological disease

August 10, 2016
A new study, based on data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) suggests a simple test of physical functioning may be able to help physicians identify individuals who are at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer's disease ...

Irregular heart rhythm may affect walking and strength in older adults

April 5, 2016
When older people develop atrial fibrillation—the most common type of irregular heartbeat—it accelerates age-related declines in walking speed, strength, balance and other aspects of physical performance, according to ...

Keeping it simple: Can resting heart rate and hand grip strength predict future pulmonary health problems?

October 18, 2016
Two studies will be presented during the CHEST Annual Meeting 2016 in Los Angeles that illustrate how something as simple as a patient's resting heart rate or handgrip strength can predict future pulmonary health problems.

Physical activity offers greater health benefits to those with naturally low fitness levels

July 7, 2016
The benefits of being physically active are far greater for those who are naturally unfit, according to scientists at The University of Glasgow.

Parkinson's disease patients benefit from physical activity

November 15, 2016
A comprehensive review published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease confirms that people living with Parkinson's disease (PD) can benefit from being physically active, especially when it comes to improving gait and balance, ...

How fast you walk and your grip in middle age may predict dementia, stroke risk

February 15, 2012
Simple tests such as walking speed and hand grip strength may help doctors determine how likely it is a middle-aged person will develop dementia or stroke. That's according to new research that was released today and will ...

Recommended for you

New method maps the dopamine system in Parkinson's patients

February 14, 2018
With the aid of a PET camera, researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have developed a new method for investigating the dopamine system in the brains of patients suffering from Parkinson's disease. The method measures ...

Mechanism behind common Parkinson's mutation discovered

February 5, 2018
Northwestern Medicine investigators have discovered how a gene mutation results in buildup of a toxic compound known to cause Parkinson's disease symptoms, defining for the first time the mechanism underlying that aspect ...

Tactic for controlling motor symptoms of advanced Parkinson's disease

January 25, 2018
Standard drug treatment for Parkinson's disease can over time induce motor complications that reduce the effectiveness of restoring mobility. These complications include abnormal involuntary movements known as dyskinesias. ...

A new therapeutic avenue for Parkinson's disease

January 23, 2018
Systemic clearing of senescent astrocytes prevents Parkinson's neuropathology and associated symptoms in a mouse model of sporadic disease, the type implicated in 95% of human cases. Publishing in Cell Reports, researchers ...

Investigators eye new target for treating movement disorders

January 19, 2018
Blocking a nerve-cell receptor in part of the brain that coordinates movement could improve the treatment of Parkinson's disease, dyskinesia and other movement disorders, researchers at Vanderbilt University have reported.

Parkinson's disease 'jerking' side effect detected by algorithm

January 8, 2018
A mathematical algorithm that can reliably detect dyskinesia, the side effect from Parkinson's treatment that causes involuntary jerking movements and muscle spasms, could hold the key to improving treatment and for patients ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.