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Introducing the Upper Limb Assessment Group (ULAG): Upper limb assessment, what has been done?


T. Keller

International Functional Electrical Stimulation Society Conference, Zao, Japan, vol. 11, pp. 55

A group of researchers, engineers and clinicians within the IFESS community have identified the need for the development of functional outcome tests specifically for neuroprostheses and FES-based rehabilitation technology interventions focused on the upper limb. This has led to the formation of ULAG: the Upper Limb Assessment Group. The aim of the group is to recommend and disseminate upper limb assessments appropriate to FES-based interventions and neuroprostheses. The group will review and develop UL assessment and hand function tests that will be sensitive to change with various FES interventions. Over the last two decades great strides have been made in the design and implementation of FES technology to improve function in the upper limb(s) of the neurologically impaired such as stroke and spinal cord injured patients. Both surface and implanted FES systems have been developed to improve the ability to move the arm in space, to restore prehensile activity in the paralysed hand and to promote motor recovery in the spastic, paretic upper limb. However, it is increasingly acknowledged by those in the field that methods to assess the functional improvements brought about by these technologies have not kept pace with the development of the technology itself. Consequently, the need grows for specific assessment tools and techniques to measure and define the clinical impact of these FES technologies Proposed methods for the creation of a standardized UL FES assessment instrument will include: 1) Creation of an inventory/database of all relevant upper limb assessments currently in use; 2) A systematic analysis of the psychometric properties, reliability and validity of these assessment tools 3) Identification of appropriate upper limb measurements that are sensitive to FES interventions 4) Dissemination of findings with the objective of recommending guidelines for choice of upper limb measures for both FES-based therapeutic interventions and neuroprostheses. Detailed findings will be available to the ifess members and to the public on our website which currently resides at: Extensive clinical research carried out in Toronto on upper limb function outcome measures in stroke will be presented as the keynote paper by Popovic. Later in this session, Nathan presents an ontological matrix approach that was proposed by the ULAG committee, and applies it to bilateral upper limb function. Finally a round table discussion will address the future directions of this work.

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