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Clinical and neurophysiological evaluation of progression in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Muscle & Nerve 2003 November
There is a need for a sensitive neurophysiological measure of disease progression in following the course of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We studied two groups of nine ALS patients, one with slow progression (Group A) and the other with rapid progression (Group B). We evaluated muscle strength scores using the Medical Research Council (MRC) scale in limb and trunk muscles, forced vital capacity (FVC), and ALS functional rating scale (ALS-FRS) scores. Maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) of the abductor digiti minimi muscle (ADM) was measured, using a digital device. We also measured M-wave amplitude and area in the ADM, and the distal motor latency and F-wave frequency in the ulnar nerve; from these data, the neurophysiological index (NI) was calculated, as described previously. In both groups, the NI was the most sensitive measure of change, with the smallest coefficient of variation. We conclude that the NI, which requires no special technology and no new clinical or technical skills to use, is sensitive to change, and therefore may be useful in clinical trials, as well as in a clinical setting.

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