How Well Do Your Arms and Hands Work?

A look at NeuRA’s development of gold standard diagnostic tools for motor impairment.

NeuRA’s ‘Physiological Profiling Assessment’ (PPA) is widely recognised as a “gold standard” diagnostic tool
for quantifying fall risk and the physiological capacity of the lower limb.

The PPA is a series of simple tests, including measures of leg strength, skin and proprioceptive sensation,
and standing balance. The combined results for a person provide a signature of their motor impairment and risk of falling. As part of the NHMRC funded Program on Motor Impairment, Prof Stephen Lord and Prof Simon Gandevia are now adapting this ground-breaking physiological pro ling approach to measure the performance of the upper limbs in the healthy population over the adult lifespan.

This approach requires measurement of performance in tests, which if defective, would impair motor performance in everyday tasks involving the upper limb such as grasping and manipulating objects, doing up buttons, etc. The tests are inexpensive and simple to perform,

provide quantitative measures and cover the range of physiological functions which are required for satisfactory movement control of the arm. Our suite of tests measure functions including arm and hand strength, hand sensation, manual dexterity, and arm coordination.

This study will recruit 320 healthy adults from 20-90 years (20 men and 20 women per decade). Once completed, this study will de ne a “gold standard” upper limb assessment and simple tests which can be used in population studies and in comparative studies of patient groups. It will also provide normative data on the type and severity of upper limb motor impairments and provide the impetus to develop strategies to improve function in ageing and disorders, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis and peripheral neuropathy.