Review article| Volume 96, ISSUE 3, P540-551.e1, March 2015

Evaluation of Measures of Upper Limb Functioning and Disability in People With Parkinson Disease: A Systematic Review

Published:October 06, 2014DOI:


      • We identified tools used for upper limb evaluation in Parkinson disease.
      • We examined studies of their measurement properties in this clinical group.
      • Evidence of the reliability of these measures in this population is limited.
      • No high-quality investigations of validity or responsiveness were identified.
      • Further investigation of these properties would inform clinical practice.



      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.

      Data Sources

      Two systematic searches of online databases included articles published from inception to November 2013.

      Study Selection

      Search 1 identified upper limb measures. Search 2 retrieved studies investigating the measurement properties of these tools in people with PD.

      Data Extraction

      Independent reviewers screened articles and extracted data, classified measurement tool content on the basis of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health content domains, and applied both the COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health status Measurement INstruments checklist to evaluate the study's methodological quality and a second checklist by Terwee et al to assess the measurement tool's quality. A third reviewer adjudicated differences between reviewers. Information on clinical utility was also compiled.

      Data Synthesis

      The 18 identified measures included PD-specific scales, generic measures, and tools developed 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 relatively few high-quality studies to support the measurement properties, particularly the validity and responsiveness, of tools currently used to evaluate 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.


      List of abbreviations:

      CAPIT (Core Assessment Program for Intracerebral Transplantations), COSMIN (COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health status Measurement INstruments), DASH (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand), ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health), PD (Parkinson disease), UPDRS (Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale)
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