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Upper extremity asymmetry due to nerve injuries or central neurologic conditions: a scoping review.

BACKGROUND: Peripheral nerve injuries and central neurologic conditions can result in extensive disabilities. In cases with unilateral impairment, assessing the asymmetry between the upper extremity has been used to assess outcomes of treatment and severity of injury. A wide variety of validated and novel tests and sensors have been utilized to determine the upper extremity asymmetry. The purpose of this article is to review the literature and define the current state of the art for describing upper extremity asymmetry in patients with peripheral nerve injuries or central neurologic conditions.

METHOD: An electronic literature search of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, OVID was performed for publications between 2000 to 2022. Eligibility criteria were subjects with neurological conditions/injuries who were analyzed for dissimilarities in use between the upper extremities. Data related to study population, target condition/injury, types of tests performed, sensors used, real-world data collection, outcome measures of interest, and results of the study were extracted. Sackett's Level of Evidence was used to judge the quality of the articles.

RESULTS: Of the 7281 unique articles, 112 articles met the inclusion criteria for the review. Eight target conditions/injuries were identified (Brachial Plexus Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Peripheral Nerve Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Schizophrenia, and stroke). The tests performed were classified into thirteen categories based on the nature of the test and data collected. The general results related to upper extremity asymmetry were listed for all the reviewed articles. Stroke was the most studied condition, followed by cerebral palsy, with kinematics and strength measurement tests being the most frequently used tests. Studies with a level of evidence level II and III increased between 2000 and 2021. The use of real-world evidence-based data, and objective data collection tests also increased in the same period.

CONCLUSION: Adequately powered randomized controlled trials should be used to study upper extremity asymmetry. Neurological conditions other than stroke should be studied further. Upper extremity asymmetry should be measured using objective outcome measures like motion tracking and activity monitoring in the patient's daily living environment.

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