Frequency of discriminative sensory loss in the hand after stroke in a rehabilitation setting
Leeanne M. Carey , Thomas A. Matyas
Objective: Somatosensory loss following stroke is common, with negative consequences for functional outcome. However, existing studies typically do not include quantitative measures of discriminative sensibility. The aim of this study was to quantify the proportion of stroke patients presenting with discriminative sensory loss of the hand in the post-acute rehabilitation phase.
Design: Prospective cohort study of stroke survivors presenting for rehabilitation.
Patients: Fifty-one consecutive patients admitted to a metro-politan rehabilitation centre over a continuous 12-month
period who met selection criteria.
Methods: Quantitative measures of touch discrimination and limb position sense, with high re-test reliability, good discriminative test properties and objective criteria of abnormality, were employed. Both upper limbs were tested, in counterbalanced order.
Results: Impaired touch discrimination was identified in the hand contralateral to the lesion in 47% of patients, and in the ipsilesional hand in 16%. Forty-nine percent showed impaired limb position sense in the contralesional limb and 20% in the ipsilesional limb. Sixty-seven percent demonstrated impairment of at least one modality in the contralesional limb. Ipsilesional impairment was less severe.
Conclusion: Discriminative sensory impairment was quantified in the contralesional hand in approximately half of stroke patients presenting for rehabilitation. A clinically significant number also experienced impairment in the ipsilesional “unaffected” hand.