Upper extremity strength and function are rarely assessed in routine multiple sclerosis (MS) care. This study aimed to evaluate hand muscle strength and functionality in individuals with MS and investigate correlations with upper extremity function, cognitive status, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and balance.
A cross-sectional study was conducted with 45 consecutive individuals with MS between the ages of 18 and 65. Upper limb motor strength was evaluated using a hand grip strength dynamometer. Upper limb functional capacity was assessed using the Nine-Hole Peg Test (9HPT) and the Duruoz Hand Index (DHI). Balance, coordination, and falls were measured with the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Falls Efficacy Scale (FES), and the 30-Second Chair Stand Test (30CST). Cognitive function was evaluated using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment instrument and the Symbol Digit Modalities Test. Level of HRQOL was assessed using the self-reported 54-item MS Quality of Life-54 questionnaire.
Out of the 45 participants (80% women, mean age 36.6 ± 8.6 years), higher hand grip dynamometer measures were strongly correlated with better DHI, 9HPT, BBS, FES, and 30CST scores. In the regression analysis, a 1-unit increase in dynamometer measures led to a 0.383 increase in overall HRQOL score.
This study demonstrates that increased hand grip strength (HGS) is associated with better hand functionality, balance, and HRQOL in individuals with MS. It provides evidence to support more systematic measurement of HGS in the care of persons with MS.