Upper extremity function (UEF) is often compromised in multiple sclerosis (MS), although its importance is regularly underrecognized relative to ambulation. We explored the concurrent presence of impairment in UEF and ambulation by examining various aspects of UEF across different levels of ambulation.


The cohort consisted of 247 patients with clinically definite MS or clinically isolated syndrome according to the revised 2010 McDonald criteria. The Nine-Hole Peg Test and the Expanded Disability Status Scale were used to stratify patients into clinically different subgroups. For UEF, cerebellar function (finger-to-nose test), pyramidal function (pronator drift test), and the ability to perform a task of activities of daily living (drinking-from-cup test) were examined. Patient-reported limitations of UEF in daily life were assessed using the Arm Function in Multiple Sclerosis Questionnaire.


Patients in more severely impaired ambulation groups displayed poorer performance on all UEF measures. Although most patients had normal to mild (n = 147) or moderate (n = 46) ambulatory impairment, 87.7% exhibited some level of UEF impairment as defined using the Nine-Hole Peg Test. Most patients had mild UEF impairment (n = 174), accounting for the largest proportion in all ambulation groups (51.9%–77.8%).


A distinct pattern of impairment was found for ambulation and multiple aspects of UEF. Independent assessment of multiple aspects of disability may be helpful in treatment decision-making and could support the development of rehabilitation strategies that specifically target UEF impairment.

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Author notes

*CEPvM and JB contributed equally to this paper.