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Developing an Instrumented Measure of Upper Limb Function in Friedreich Ataxia

Upper limb function for people with Friedreich ataxia determines capacity to participate in daily activities. Current upper limb measures available do not fully capture impairments related to Friedreich ataxia. This group has developed an objective measure, the Ataxia Instrumented Measure-Spoon (AIM-S), which consists of a spoon equipped with a BioKin wireless motion capture device, and algorithms that analyse these signals, to measure ataxia of the upper limb during the pre-oral phase of eating. The aim of this study was to evaluate the AIM-S as a sensitive and functionally relevant clinical outcome for use in clinical trials. A prospective longitudinal study evaluated the capacity of the AIM-S to detect change in upper limb function over 48 weeks. Friedreich ataxia clinical severity, performance on the Nine-Hole Peg Test and Box and Block Test and responses to a purpose-designed questionnaire regarding acceptability of AIM-S were recorded. Forty individuals with Friedreich ataxia and 20 control participants completed the baseline assessment. Thirty individuals with Friedreich ataxia completed the second assessment. The sensitivity of the AIM-S to detect deterioration in upper limb function was greater than other measures. Patient-reported outcomes indicated the AIM-S reflected a daily activity and was more enjoyable to complete than other assessments. The AIM-S is a more accurate, less variable measure of upper limb function in Friedreich ataxia than existing measures. The AIM-S is perceived by individuals with Friedreich ataxia to be related to everyday life and will permit individuals who are non-ambulant to be included in future clinical trials.

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