Test-Retest Reliability and Convergent Validity of a Computer Based Hand Function Test Protocol in People with Arthritis

Cynthia S. Srikesavan1, Barbara Shay 2, Tony Szturm2, *
1 Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
2 Department of Physical Therapy, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

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© Srikesavan et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Physical Therapy, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; Tel: 1-(204) 787-4794; Fax: 1-(204) 789-3927; E-mail E-mail:


Objectives: A computer based hand function assessment tool has been developed to provide a standardized method for quantifying task performance during manipulations of common objects/tools/utensils with diverse physical properties and grip/grasp requirements for handling. The study objectives were to determine test-retest reliability and convergent validity of the test protocol in people with arthritis.

Methods: Three different object manipulation tasks were evaluated twice in forty people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or hand osteoarthritis (HOA). Each object was instrumented with a motion sensor and moved in concert with a computer generated visual target. Self-reported joint pain and stiffness levels were recorded before and after each task. Task performance was determined by comparing the object movement with the computer target motion. This was correlated with grip strength, nine hole peg test, Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) questionnaire, and the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) scores.

Results: The test protocol indicated moderate to high test-retest reliability of performance measures for three manipulation tasks, intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) ranging between 0.5 to 0.84, p<0.05. Strength of association between task performance measures with self- reported activity/participation composite scores was low to moderate (Spearman rho <0.7). Low correlations (Spearman rho < 0.4) were observed between task performance measures and grip strength; and between three objects’ performance measures. Significant reduction in pain and joint stiffness (p<0.05) was observed after performing each task.

Conclusion: The study presents initial evidence on the test retest reliability and convergent validity of a computer based hand function assessment protocol in people with rheumatoid arthritis or hand osteoarthritis. The novel tool objectively measures overall task performance during a variety of object manipulation tasks done by tracking a computer based visual target. This allows an innovative method of assessing performance than considering the time taken to complete a task or relying on subjective measures of self-reports on a limited range of objects and tasks covered. In addition, joint pain and stiffness levels before and after a manipulation task are tracked, which is lacking in other hand outcome measures. Performance measures during a broad range of object manipulation tasks relate to many activities relevant to life role participation. Therefore, task performance evaluation of common objects, utensils, or tools would be more valuable to gauge the difficulties encountered in daily life by people with arthritis. Future studies should consider a few revisions of the present protocol and evaluate a number of different objects targeting strength, fine, and gross dexterity based tasks for a broader application of the tool in arthritis populations.

Keywords: Arthritis, grip strength, hand function, object manipulations, questionnaires, task performance.