Functional classification of grasp strategies used by hemiplegic patients

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Abstract

This study aimed to identify and qualify grasp-types used by patients with stroke and determine the clinical parameters that could explain the use of each grasp. Thirty-eight patients with chronic stroke-related hemiparesis and a range of motor and functional capacities (17 females and 21 males, aged 25–78), and 10 healthy subjects were included. Four objects were used (tissue packet, teaspoon, bottle and tennis ball). Participants were instructed to “grasp the object as if you are going to use it”. Three trials were video-recorded for each object. A total of 456 grasps were analysed and rated using a custom-designed Functional Grasp Scale. Eight grasp-types were identified from the analysis: healthy subjects used Multi-pulpar, Pluri-digital, Lateral-pinch and Palmar grasps (Standard Grasps). Patients used the same grasps with in addition Digito-palmar, Raking, Ulnar and Interdigital grasps (Alternative Grasps). Only patients with a moderate or relatively good functional ability used Standard grasps. The correlation and regression analyses showed this was conditioned by sufficient finger and elbow extensor strength (Pluri-digital grasp); thumb extensor and wrist flexor strength (Lateral pinch) or in forearm supinator strength (Palmar grasp). By contrast, the patients who had severe impairment used Alternative grasps that did not involve the thumb. These strategies likely compensate specific impairments. Regression and correlation analyses suggested that weakness had a greater influence over grasp strategy than spasticity. This would imply that treatment should focus on improving hand strength and control although reducing spasticity may be useful in some cases.

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García Álvarez, A., Roby-Brami, A., Robertson, J., & Roche, N. (2017). Functional classification of grasp strategies used by hemiplegic patients. PLoS ONE, 12(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187608

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