Hand grip strength could be a non-invasive tool to evaluate disease activity, disability and quality of life in children and adolescents with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, according to a study.
The research, “Association of hand grip strength with disease activity, disability and quality of life in children and adolescents with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis,” appeared in Advances in Rheumatology.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) comprises a group of chronic inflammatory conditions that affect the joints, causing swelling, stiffness, and pain in children. In most cases (around 80%), wrist and hand joints are also affected, leading to a significant decrease in hand function, which has a negative impact on patients’ ability to perform daily activities.
“Progressive loss of hand strength and function could ultimately lead to hand disability and adversely impacts the children’s daily living activities, school performance, and their overall quality of life,” researchers stated.
As such, evaluating hand grip strength (HGS) in children with JIA is important. However, no study so far has explored the possible association among HGS, JIA disease activity and patients’ quality of life.
Now, researchers from the Assiut University in Egypt measured and compared HGS in a group of children and adolescents with JIA to age- and sex-matched healthy controls to explore the link among HGS, disease activity, and children’s quality of life.
HGS was measured by a hand-held dynamometer — a device for measuring force, torque, or power. JIA disease activity, patients’ disability, and quality of life were determined based on the Juvenile Arthritis Disease Activity Score (JADAS-27), the Juvenile Arthritis Functionality Scale (JAFS), and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) respectively.
The study enrolled 23 children with JIA (14 boys and nine girls) and 46 controls (19 boys and 27 girls).
As expected, data showed that HGS among children and adolescents with JIA was significantly lower compared to the healthy controls.
Researchers also found that HGS was inversely correlated with JADAS-27 and JAFS, meaning that lower HGS values are associated with higher disease activity and patients’ disability.
HGS was also directly correlated with PedsQL, with higher HGS values linked to higher quality of life in children with JIA.
“In conclusion, the use of electronic hand dynamometer for assessment of HGS is a simple, non-invasive and inexpensive procedure which if applied in the outpatient settings could help the physician to evaluate the current disease activity, functional disability, and the quality of life and to better monitor the disease outcome in children and adolescents with JIA,” researchers said.