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Foot Tapping Assesses Motor Function in Cervical Myelopathy

Last Updated: January 12, 2012.

The foot tapping test can be used to quantitatively assess lower extremity motor function in patients with cervical myelopathy, according to a study published in the Jan. 15 issue of Spine.

THURSDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The foot tapping test (FTT) can be used to quantitatively assess lower extremity motor function in patients with cervical myelopathy, according to a study published in the Jan. 15 issue of Spine.

Takuya Numasawa, M.D., of the Hirosaki University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, and colleagues investigated whether the FTT can be used to quantitatively assess lower extremity motor function in patients with cervical compressive myelopathy. A total of 252 patients with cervical myelopathy patients (126 underwent surgery) and 792 healthy volunteers participated in the study. Patients who underwent surgery were assessed before and one year following surgery. The FTT and grip and release tests were performed, and the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score for cervical myelopathy was evaluated.

The researchers found that the mean FTT value was significantly lower for myelopathic patients than healthy volunteers (23.8 ± 7.2 versus 31.7 ± 6.4, respectively). FTT values decreased with age and correlated significantly with lower extremity motor function, based on the JOA score and grip and release test. The average value of the FTT was 22.4 ± 7.0 for patients who underwent surgery, and improved to 28.4 ± 8.1 at one year post-surgery. There was a significant correlation between post-operative gain of FTT and the gain in JOA score.

"The FTT test may be an easy and useful quantitative assessment method for lower extremity motor function in patients with cervical compressive myelopathy, especially for those who can hardly walk," the authors write.

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