Content » Vol 47, Issue 8

Original report

Isometric and isokinetic muscle strength in the upper extremity can be reliably measured in persons with chronic stroke

Elisabeth Ekstrand, Jan Lexell, Christina Brogårdh
Department of Health Sciences, Lund University, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-1990


Objective: To evaluate the test-retest reliability of isometric and isokinetic muscle strength measurements in the upper extremity after stroke.
Design: A test-retest design.
Subjects: Forty-five persons with mild to moderate paresis in the upper extremity > 6 months post-stroke.
Methods: Isometric arm strength (shoulder abduction, elbow flexion), isokinetic arm strength (elbow extension/flexion) and isometric grip strength were measured with electronic dynamometers. Reliability was evaluated with intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC), changes in the mean, standard error of measurements (SEM) and smallest real differences (SRD).
Results: Reliability was high (ICCs: 0. 92–0. 97). The absolute and relative (%) SEM ranged from 2. 7 Nm (5. 6%) to 3. 0 Nm (9. 4%) for isometric arm strength, 2. 6 Nm (7. 4%) to 2. 9 Nm (12. 6%) for isokinetic arm strength, and 22. 3 N (7. 6%) to 26. 4 N (9. 2%) for grip strength. The absolute and relative (%) SRD ranged from 7. 5 Nm (15. 5%) to 8. 4 Nm (26. 1%) for isometric arm strength, 7. 1 Nm (20. 6%) to 8. 0 Nm (34. 8%) for isokinetic arm strength, and 61. 8 N (21. 0%) to 73. 3 N (25. 6%) for grip strength.
Conclusion: Muscle strength in the upper extremity can be reliably measured in persons with chronic stroke. Isometric measurements yield smaller measurement errors than isokinetic measurements and might be preferred, but the choice depends on the research question.

Lay Abstract


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