Bone and Joint Institute

Physical impairments predict hand dexterity function after distal radius fractures: A 2-year prospective cohort study

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Hand Therapy





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© 2018, © The Author(s) 2018. Introduction: The overall aim of this study was to determine whether physical impairments – loss of range of motion and grip strength – could be used to predict hand dexterity functions in patients at 1 and 2 years after distal radius fracture. Methods: This was a prospective cohort study. Hand dexterity was assessed at three different levels using the NK hand dexterity test. We used a manual goniometer to measure the active range of motion in the affected hand for wrist flexion and extension movements, and a J-Tech grip strength device to measure patients’ hand grip strength levels. Assessments were performed at 1- and 2-year follow-ups. Separate multivariable regression analyses were performed to determine if range of motion predicts hand dexterity functions at 1 and 2 years after distal radius fracture. Results: A total of 160 patients with distal radius fracture were included in this study. Range of motion (flexion and extension) and grip strength were both statistically significant (p < 0.05) independent variables in predicting hand dexterity functions at all three levels among patients after distal radius fracture at 1-year follow-up. Range of motion and strength levels accounted for 31%, 33% and 22% of the variance in patients’ large, medium and small hand dexterity functions, respectively. At 2 years, grip strength remained the only statistically significant (p < 0.001) independent variable in predicting hand dexterity functions at all three levels. Conclusions: Physical impairments (loss of range of motion and grip strength) have higher predictive values for large and medium hand dexterity functions, than small hand dexterity functions, in patients after distal radius fracture, at both 1- and 2-year follow-up periods.

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