Progressive arm muscle weakness in ALS follows the same sequence regardless of onset site: use of TOMS, a novel analytic method to track limb strength

Nimish J. Thakore*, Brian J. Drawert, Brittany R. Lapin, Erik P. Pioro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Examine sequence of weakness in arm muscles from longitudinal hand-held dynamometry (HHD) data in ALS for congruence with contiguous spread of neurodegeneration along spinal cord segments. Methods: Longitudinal HHD data from the Ceftriaxone clinical trial were examined using nonlinear mixed models, assuming a logistic trajectory from normal to zero strength. Unobserved baseline normal strength of weak muscles was assumed using strength of the best-preserved muscle. A novel metric called “time from onset to midway strength” (TOMS) was estimated for each muscle group, and TOMS ratios were examined to identify sequence of weakness, overall and by onset site. Results: Shoulder flexion (SF), elbow flexion (EF), elbow extension (EE), wrist extension (WE), and first dorsal interosseous (FDI) were measured on each side. Over a median of 36 weeks, 513 subjects provided 2589 sets of HHD measures. TOMS increased sequentially in the following order: FDI, WE, SF, EF, and EE. TOMS ratios estimates with 95% CIs (adjusted for multiple comparisons) were: WE/FDI 1.32 (1.24–1.41), SF/WE 1.06 (1.01–1.10), EF/SF 1.06 (1.02–1.10), and EE/EF 1.18 (1.12–1.23). Elbow and shoulder flexors weakened sooner than did elbow extensors. The sequence of arm muscle weakness progression was similar regardless of onset site. Conclusion: Nonsegmental progression of arm muscle weakness that is similar for different onset sites favors cortical influence/network spread over contiguous spread of neurodegeneration in the spinal cord. Furthermore, this study confirms the “split elbow” pattern. TOMS and other proposed methods may have value as outcome measures in clinical research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-387
Number of pages8
JournalAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration
Volume22
Issue number5-6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • dissociated muscle atrophy
  • hand-held dynamometry
  • Muscle strength
  • non-linear mixed models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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