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Measurements of Hand Function in Degenerative Cerebellar Disease: A Case-Control Pilot Study

Scott Barbuto, MD, PhD, Stuart Mackenzie, PhD, Sheng-Han Kuo, MD, Tomoko Kitago, and Joel Stein, MD
Year Published: 
Am J Phys Med Rehabil . 2020 Sep;99(9):795-800. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001411.
PMCID: PMC7483965 NIHMSID: NIHMS1595105 PMID: 32167956
Full-Text on Pubmed



To determine the association of Nine Hole Peg Test (9HPT), Box and Block Test (BBT), Jebsen Taylor Hand Function Test (JTHFT), and kinematic measures of a simple reaching task with ataxia severity in adults with degenerative cerebellar disease.


Fourteen adults with cerebellar degeneration were recruited, and ataxia severity was determined using the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA). The median SARA score was used to divide participants into less and more severe ataxia groups. The two groups’ average scores on the hand function tests were compared, and correlation of each test with ataxia severity was determined.


The 9HPT, BBT, and JTHFT all differentiated between less and more severe ataxia groups, and the 9HPT performed with the participant’s dominant hand had the highest correlation with ataxia severity (rs=.92, p<.01). Although accuracy, precision, and number of sub-movements were statistically different between healthy individuals and the more ataxic participant group, most kinematic measures were not significantly different between the less and more severe ataxic groups.


Overall, our results indicate that all three clinical tests correlate with ataxia severity. Larger future studies should examine the reliability and validity of these hand function measures in adults with degenerative cerebellar disease.

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