Responsiveness of five measures of arm function in acute stroke rehabilitation

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To determine the responsiveness of five arm function measures in people receiving acute inpatient stroke rehabilitation.


Inception cohort study.


Comprehensive stroke unit providing early rehabilitation.


A total of 64 consecutively admitted stroke survivors with moderately severe disability (Modified Rankin Scale score median (interquartile range (IQR)): 4.0 (1.0)).

Main measures:

Responsiveness was analyzed by calculating effect size, standardized response mean and median-based effect size. Floor/ceiling effects were calculated as the percentage of participants scoring the lowest/highest possible scores.


Average length of stay and number of therapy days were 34 (SD = 27.9) and 12 (SD = 13.1), respectively. Box and Block Test and Functional Independence Measure–Self-Care showed the highest responsiveness with values in the moderate–large range (effect size = 1.09, standardized response mean = 1.07 and median-based effect size = 0.76; effect size = 0.94, standardized response mean = 1.04 and median-based effect size = 1.0). Responsiveness of Action Research Arm Test and Upper Limb–Motor Assessment Scale were moderate (effect size = 0.58, standardized response mean = 0.69 and median-based effect size = 0.59; effect size = 0.62, standardized response mean = 0.75 and median-based effect size = 0.67). For Manual Muscle Test, responsiveness was in the small–moderate range (effect size = 0.42, standardized response mean = 0.59 and median-based effect size = 0.5). Box and Block Test showed the largest floor effect on admission (28%), and Action Research Arm Test and Manual Muscle Test showed the largest ceiling effect on discharge (31%).


These five measures varied in their ability to detect change with responsiveness ranging from the small to large range. Box and Block Test and Functional Independence Measure–Self-Care showed a greater ability to detect change; both demonstrated moderate–large responsiveness.

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