Measurement of muscle strength with a handheld dynamometer in patients with chronic spinal muscular atrophy
Anna Febrer, Natalia Rodriguez, Laura Alias, Eduardo Tizzano
Objective: To measure muscle strength in patients with spinal muscular atrophy using a handheld dynamometer as an objective tool to evaluate the progression of disease and the outcome of therapeutic trials.
Design: Maximum voluntary isometric contraction was measured in a group of 24 patients aged 5–38 years with types II and III spinal muscular atrophy. Four muscle groups were examined. Data were grouped according to age and sex. Comparison was made between spinal muscular atrophy types; ambulatory vs non-ambulatory, and survival motor neuron (SMN)2 copies. The results were compared with those of a healthy reference population.
Results: Muscle strength was much lower in patients with spinal muscular atrophy than in the healthy population. The walkers group yielded higher values than patients who were non-walkers. Knee extensors were the weakest muscles in both groups, regardless of the ability to walk. The greatest differences were found between ambulatory and non-ambulatory patients. Non-walkers type III patients showed lower values, similar to those for type II patients. Patients with 3 and 4 SMN2 copies showed higher strength with respect to those with 2 SMN2 copies, although not statistically significant.
Conclusion: The handheld dynamometer is a valid tool for measuring muscle strength in patients with spinal muscular atrophy. It can be used to measure disease progression and to evaluate changes in therapeutic trials.