Quantifying Tenodesis Hand Function in Cervical Spinal Cord Injury: Implications for Function

Stahs Pripotnev, Jordan Bruce, Christine B. Novak, Carie R. Kennedy, Ida K. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) has a profound effect on upper-extremity function. Individuals with stiffness and/or spasticity may have more, or less, useful tenodesis function. This study examined the variability present before any reconstructive surgery. Methods: Tenodesis pinch and grasp were measured with the wrist in maximal active extension. Tenodesis pinch was the contact point of the thumb with the index finger proximal phalanx (T-IF:P1), middle phalanx (T-IF:P2), distal phalanx (T-IF:P3), or absent (T-IF:absent). Tenodesis grasp was the distance from the long finger to the distal palmar crease (LF-DPC). Activities of daily living function was assessed using the Spinal Cord Independence Measure (SCIM). Results: The study included 27 individuals (4 females, 23 males; mean age 36 years, mean time since SCI 6.8 years). The mean International Classification for Surgery of the Hand in Tetraplegia (ICSHT) group classification was 3. In the dominant hand, individuals with a T-IF tenodesis pinch to P1 or P2 had significantly higher total SCIM scores (43.7 and 34.2, respectively) compared to those with absent T-IF tenodesis pinch (SCIM 17.8). Shorter LF-DPC distance with tenodesis grasp (improved finger closing) also correlated with improved SCIM mobility and total scores. No association was found between the ICSHT group and SCIM score or tenodesis measures. Conclusions: Quantifying tenodesis with pinch (T-IF) and grasp (LF-DPC) is a simple method to characterize hand movement in individuals with cervical SCI. Better tenodesis pinch and grasp were associated with improved activities of daily living performance. Clinical relevance: Differences in grasp function have implications for mobility, and differences in pinch function have implications for all functions, particularly self-care. These physical measurements could be used to assess movement changes after nonsurgical and surgical treatment in tetraplegia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-710
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Classification system
  • outcomes assessment
  • spinal cord injury
  • tenodesis
  • tetraplegia


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