Measures of sensation in neurological conditions: A systematic review

Division of Physiotherapy Education, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.
Clinical Rehabilitation (Impact Factor: 2.24). 01/2012; 26(1):68-80. DOI: 10.1177/0269215511412982
Source: PubMed


To systematically review the psychometric properties and clinical utility of measures of sensation in neurological conditions to inform future research studies and clinical practice.
Electronic databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE and AMED) were searched from their inception to December 2010.
Search terms were used to identify articles that investigated any sensory measures in neurological conditions. Data about their psychometric properties and clinical utility were extracted and analyzed independently. The strength of the psychometric properties and clinical utility were assessed following recommendations. (1)
Sixteen sensory measures were identified. Inter-rater reliability and redundancy of testing protocols are particular issues for this area of assessment. Eleven were rejected because they were not available for a researcher or clinician to use. Of the remaining five measures, the Erasmus MC modifications of the Nottingham Sensory Assessment and the Sensory section of the Fugl-Meyer Assessment showed the best balance of clinical utility and psychometric properties.
Many measures of sensory impairment have been used in research but few have been fully developed to produce robust data and be easy to use. At present, the sensory section of the Fugl-Meyer Assessment and the Erasmus MC modifications of the Nottingham Sensory Assessment show the most effective balance of usability and robustness, when delivered according to the operating instructions.

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    • "There is no widely-accepted or standardized test of sensory impairments after stroke [34]. Impairments in cutaneous sensation are usually assessed at the index fingertip [9], [35], or clinically by descriptors such as ‘present’, ‘absent’ or ‘impaired’ [8], [18], [36], [37]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Sensation is commonly impaired immediately post-stroke but little is known about the long-term changes in cutaneous sensation that have the capacity to adversely impact independence and motor-function. We investigated cutaneous sensory thresholds across the hand in the chronic post-stroke period. Cutaneous sensation was assessed in 42 community-dwelling stroke patients and compared to 36 healthy subjects. Sensation was tested with calibrated monofilaments at 6 sites on the hand that covered the median, ulnar and radial innervation territories and included both glabrous (hairless) and hairy skin. The motor-function of stroke patients was assessed with the Wolf Motor Function Test and the upper-limb motor Fugl-Meyer Assessment. Impaired cutaneous sensation was defined as monofilament thresholds >3 SD above the mean of healthy subjects and good sensation was ≤3 SD. Cutaneous sensation was impaired for 33% of patients and was 40-84% worse on the more-affected side compared to healthy subjects depending on the site (p<0.05). When the stroke patient data were pooled cutaneous sensation fell within the healthy range, although ∼1/3 of patients were classified with impaired sensation. Classification by motor-function revealed low levels of impaired sensation. The magnitude of sensory loss was only apparent when the sensory-function of stroke patients was classified as good or impaired. Sensation was most impaired on the dorsum of the hand where age-related changes in monofilament thresholds are minimal in healthy subjects. Although patients with both high and low motor-function had poor cutaneous sensation, overall patients with low motor-function had poorer cutaneous sensation than those with higher motor-function, and relationships were found between motor impairments and sensation at the fingertip and palm. These results emphasize the importance of identifying the presence and magnitude of cutaneous sensory impairments in the chronic period after stroke.
    PLoS ONE 08/2014; 9(8):e104153. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0104153 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of transplantation with umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in patients with sequelae of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The study hypothesis was that umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation could safely and effectively improve neurological function in patients with sequelae of traumatic brain injury. Forty patients with sequelae of TBI were randomly assigned to the stem cell treatment group or the control group. The patients in the stem cell treatment group underwent 4 stem cell transplantations via lumbar puncture. All patients of the group were also evaluated using Fugl-Meyer Assessments (FMA) and Functional Independence Measures (FIM) before and at 6 months after the stem cell transplantation. The patients in the control group did not receive any medical treatment (i.e., neither surgery nor medical intervention), and their FMA and FIM scores were determined on the day of the visit to the clinic and at 6 months after that clinical observation. The FMA results demonstrated an improvement in upper extremity motor sub-score, lower extremity motor sub-score, sensation sub-score and balance sub-score in the stem cell transplantation group at 6 months after the transplantation (P<0.05). The FIM results also exhibited significant improvement (P<0.05) in the patient self-care sub-score, sphincter control sub-score, mobility sub-score, locomotion sub-score, communication sub-score and social cognition sub-score. The control group exhibited no improvements after 6 months (P>0.05). All in all, the study results confirmed that the umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation improved the neurological function and self-care in patients with TBI sequels. Umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation may be a potential treatment for patients with sequelae of TBI. Further research, including a multicenter and large sample size prospective randomized clinical trial, will be required to define definitively the role of umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation on sequelae of TBI.
    Brain research 08/2013; 1532. DOI:10.1016/j.brainres.2013.08.001 · 2.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: Upper limb post-stroke sensory impairments have an impact on a significant number of stroke survivors. There is limited research in this area and it is unclear how occupational therapists are addressing sensory impairments in clinical practice. This study aimed to investigate the clinical practice patterns of occupational therapists, perceived barriers to providing interventions and information sources used when addressing upper limb post-stroke sensory impairments. Methods:A survey was sent to 500 randomly selected occupational therapists in the United States. Findings: The majority of the 145 respondents reported frequently assessing sensation, and half reported providing interventions for sensory impairments. Interventions primarily focused on providing passive sensory stimulation followed by compensatory strategies. Most therapists provided patient/caregiver education about safety. Therapists cited lack of knowledge and skills, patients' short length of stay and lack of time as barriers to utilizing interventions. Most therapists reported not being up to date with current research and requested continuing education to support practice. Conclusion: This survey established a profile of American occupational therapists' practice with people with upper limb post-stroke sensory impairments. Therapists have a need for information and training in all aspects of the management of upper limb post-stroke sensory impairment. Further research, evaluating the effectiveness of interventions and exploring therapists' clinical decision making when choosing interventions, is also needed.
    British Journal of Occupational Therapy 10/2013; 76(10):434-442. DOI:10.4276/030802213X13807217284143 · 0.64 Impact Factor
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