Evaluation of measures of upper limb functioning and disability in people with Parkinson disease

The aim of this study was to identify measurement tools used for upper limb evaluation in people with Parkinson disease (PD), to summarize the content of each tool using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, and to examine the reliability, validity, clinical utility, and responsiveness of the measurement tools specific to this clinical group. The 18 identified measures included PD-specific scales, generic measures, and tools designed for other clinical populations; most measures evaluated impairments and/or activity limitations. Measurement properties of 10 of the 18 identified measures were evaluated in people with PD. No high-quality studies investigated validity or responsiveness. High-quality evidence supported the interrater reliability of some Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale subtests, and lower quality studies provided limited evidence for the test-retest reliability of measures evaluating fine hand function and bradykinesia.

There are comparitively few high-quality studies to support the measurement properties, particularly the validity and responsiveness, of tools currently used to asses upper limb disability and function in people with PD. Further research is needed to inform measurement tool selection and treatment evaluation in this clinical group.