Background: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common disabling neurological disease. Hand dysfunction is one of the main complaints of patients with MS. The present study aimed to compare hand dexterity of MS patients with low Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores and healthy adults. It also sought to identify the predictors of disability status of patients with MS based on their manual dexterity and demographic characteristics.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 60 (16 male/44 female) patients with MS and 60 (19 male/41 female) healthy people, who matched in terms of age and sex, were recruited. Their hand dexterity was evaluated by the Purdue Pegboard Test. The disability status of the MS group was determined by the Expanded Disability Status Scale. The data were analyzed using SPSS15.
Results: The hand dexterity in MS group even with low EDSS score (1.5 ± 1.07) was weaker than control group. Moreover, the dexterity of dominant hand and alternating two hands coordination subtests of the PPT was a good discriminator between two groups (p<0.001). The results of linear regression analysis suggested dominant hand dexterity and disease duration as predictors of disability status that predict 60.5 per cent of the variation in EDSS scores in patients with MS (p<0.001).
Conclusion: Reduced dominant hand dexterity in patients with MS is a disabling factor. Further research is recommended to determine if early hand rehabilitation can reduce the severity of disability in Patients with MS.