Quantification of upper limb skills in elderly rehabilitative inpatients: A controlled study

M. Bejor, S. Mandrini, P. Caspani, M. Comelli, M. Chiappedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Aging has a recognized degenerative effect on the functionality of the hand in terms of strength and dexterity. Despite this, there are few studies in literature that quantify the upper limb skills in the elderly. Aim. The aim was to present quantitative data regarding upper limb functionality in the elderly and to quantify the effect of aging on them, considering the influence of the comorbidities, of the global level of autonomy, of the cognitive status and of the mood, which are typically compromised in the elderly. Design. It was a controlled study. Setting. It was settled in the Rehabilitation Unit of the "Santa Maria alle Fonti" Medical Center, part of the Don Carlo Gnocchi ONLUS Foundation. Population. Thirty-five elderly inpatients (aged 78.6±7.5 years) compared to 30 healthy young adults (aged 30±3.9 years). Methods. A task consisting in 12 trials of grasping of rulers was administered to each subject and studied with a video analysis software. To assess the comorbidities, the global level of autonomy, the cognitive status and the mood, we respectively used the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS), the Functional Independence Measure (FIM™), the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Geriatric Depression Scale in the 15-items version (GDS-15). The scores obtained in these scales were correlated to the mean times of trials execution. Results. The motor performance was significantly worse in the inpatients group compared to the control group in terms of time to complete single tasks (which was on average three times higher in the inpatients group) and of respect of the starting sound stimulus, with more subjects from the inpatients group anticipating the starting signal. This worsening of the motor performance was significantly correlated to the severity of comorbidities and to the global level of autonomy. No significant differences emerged for the correctness of the performance and significant differences were not correlated with depression or cognitive impairment. Conclusion. This study provides quantifiable data regarding upper limb skills in the elderly inpatient, allowing comparisons with other future studies of the rehabilitative environment. Clinical Rehabilitation Impact. It suggests the relevance of considering the severity of comorbidities and the global level of autonomy in the assessment of upper limb skills in the elderly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-404
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Aged
  • Rehabilitation
  • Upper extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantification of upper limb skills in elderly rehabilitative inpatients: A controlled study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this