Systematic review on kinematic assessments of upper limb movements after stroke

Anne Schwarz*, Christoph M. Kanzler, Olivier Lambercy, Andreas R. Luft, Janne M. Veerbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)
161 Downloads (Pure)


Background and Purpose - Assessing upper limb movements poststroke is crucial to monitor and understand sensorimotor recovery. Kinematic assessments are expected to enable a sensitive quantification of movement quality and distinguish between restitution and compensation. The nature and practice of these assessments are highly variable and used without knowledge of their clinimetric properties. This presents a challenge when interpreting and comparing results. The purpose of this review was to summarize the state of the art regarding kinematic upper limb assessments poststroke with respect to the assessment task, measurement system, and performance metrics with their clinimetric properties. Subsequently, we aimed to provide evidence-based recommendations for future applications of upper limb kinematics in stroke recovery research. Methods - A systematic search was conducted in PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, and IEEE Xplore. Studies investigating clinimetric properties of applied metrics were assessed for risk of bias using the Consensus-Based Standards for the Selection of Health Measurement Instruments checklist. The quality of evidence for metrics was determined according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach. Results - A total of 225 studies (N=6197) using 151 different kinematic metrics were identified and allocated to 5 task and 3 measurement system groups. Thirty studies investigated clinimetrics of 62 metrics: Reliability (n=8), measurement error (n=5), convergent validity (n=22), and responsiveness (n=2). The metrics task/movement time, number of movement onsets, number of movement ends, path length ratio, peak velocity, number of velocity peaks, trunk displacement, and shoulder flexion/extension received a sufficient evaluation for one clinimetric property. Conclusions - Studies on kinematic assessments of upper limb sensorimotor function are poorly standardized and rarely investigate clinimetrics in an unbiased manner. Based on the available evidence, recommendations on the assessment task, measurement system, and performance metrics were made with the goal to increase standardization. Further high-quality studies evaluating clinimetric properties are needed to validate kinematic assessments, with the long-term goal to elucidate upper limb sensorimotor recovery poststroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-727
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Biomechanical phenomena
  • Movement
  • Paresis
  • Review
  • Stroke
  • Upper extremity


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