Muscle strength assessment is one of the widespread methods to diagnose multiple sclerosis. According to Jørgensen et al. (2017), muscle strength and force development are abnormal in patients with the mentioned disorder. Since the normal neurological condition implies full control over muscle movements, healthy patients do not demonstrate involuntary contractions, tremor, or weakness in muscles. The process of examination through strength assessment includes the observation of the subject’s attempts to resist the movement. Lower limbs are affected in the first place, and weakness in legs is a widespread symptom of multiple sclerosis (Murray, 2017). Another important factor that should be considered during the assessment is spasticity. If there is multiple sclerosis, the contraction of agonist and antagonist muscles is a clear sign of the damage in the nervous system (Murray, 2017). In this case, physical therapy and strength training are usually recommended for treatment. This assessment is highly reliable since the nerves of the central nervous system have a significant influence on motor control.
The purpose of the second neurological assessment, rapid alternating movements, is to evaluate the control of the nervous system over muscles. Rapid movement tasks, such as finger or foot tapping, involve the work of the corticospinal tract, cerebellar, and sensory pathways (Sato et al., 2020). The test demonstrates variability in muscular work since the healthy patient should be able to make consequent and repetitive muscle changes, which include switching between up and down phases of movement (Sato et al., 2020). Akin to the previous type of assessment, this test demonstrates the connection between muscle control and neural functions of the brain. Namely, this is cerebellar dysfunction, in the case of slow repetitive movements or inability to perform them at all (Noffs et al., 2020). Being an important symptom of multiple sclerosis, this test allows evaluating the likeliness of this condition in a subject and choosing appropriate medical treatment.
Jørgensen, M., Dalgas, U., Wens, I., & Hvid, L. (2017). Muscle strength and power in persons with multiple sclerosis – a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 376, 225–241. Web.
Murray, T.J. (2017). Multiple sclerosis: A guide for the newly diagnosed (5th ed.). Springer Publishing Company.
Noffs, G., Boonstra, F. M. C., Perera, T., Kolbe, S. C., Stankovich, J., Butzkueven, H., Evans, A., Vogel, A.P., & van der Walt, A. (2020). Acoustic speech analytics are predictive of cerebellar dysfunction in multiple sclerosis. The Cerebellum, 19, 691-700. Web.
Sato, S., Lim, J., Miehm, J. D., Buonaccorsi, J., Rajala, C., Khalighinejad, F., Ionete, C., Kent, J.A., & van Emmerik, R. E. A. (2020). Rapid foot-tapping but not hand-tapping ability is different between relapsing-remitting and progressive multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, 41, 1-11. Web.