Standard assessment instruments cannot differentiate patients with minimal residual hand function after stroke. As a result, changes in motor recovery are difficult to document using currently-available tests. In a controlled study with chronic stroke patients without residual finger extension, a new hand function test has been developed. This instrument, called Broetz Hand Test (BzH), allows to assess small variations in hand function in severely paralyzed stoke patients. The instrument is easy to use, and was developed using principles of motor learning and behavioral assessment.
The instrument consists of seven daily life-oriented tasks, each of which asks for movement of the paralyzed hand. BzH of 20 patients after stroke was evaluated before and after a behavioral physiotherapy treatment. Sensitivity, inter-observer reliability, test-retest reliability and construct validity was calculated.
Two-tailed paired-samples t-test before and after treatment demonstrated sufficient sensitivity. Mean agreement between the raters resulted in an excellent interrater-reliability. Test-retest reliability between the pre- and post-treatment scores was 0.9. The correlation between BzH and standard test scores was statistically significant and demonstrated sufficient validity.
The BzH is a valid and reliable tool to assess changes in hand function in severely paralyzed patients after stroke.