Thanks to your donations, we funded Linford’s role as a Clinical Research Fellow in the Neurosciences department at Leeds Teaching Hospitals to carry out clinical research in multiple sclerosis (MS).

Linford began his pilot study in 2019 looking into the hand function of 42 progressive MS patients to see how different treatments and drugs affect hand mobility.


What did the study find?

“Participants in the study with MS took longer to perform the reach and grasp trials with the objects compared to 15 volunteers without MS (controls). All participants with MS showed a big difference between how they used their preferred hand and non-preferred hand when reaching for objects.

The patients’ performance on the reach and grasp trials was also reflected in their questionnaire scores about how difficult they found daily tasks like holding utensils or brushing teeth. Those who reported that their hand function severely affected their daily activities, also found the reach and grasp trials more difficult.

When we compared the results at the six-month interval when the patient group repeated the tests, there weren’t too many differences in their performance on the reach and grasp trials.

Their performance on the reach and grasp trials was associated with their performance on the nine-hole peg test, but we didn’t find any association with their neurological examination score, which takes into account their mobility.”


What do these results mean for people with MS?

“This is the first such study using these techniques to analyse hand function in people with progressive MS. Many of our results are original and will need to be replicated in future studies. But these results show us that hand function is severely affected in many people with progressive MS, and is not always related to mobility.

Whilst there will not be a change to the clinical care of the patients in the study as a direct result of the results, the results we have obtained will help us to develop effective and accurate ways of monitoring hand function.

 Our aim is to make the monitoring of hand function a part of routine clinical care, especially in people who report difficulties with their hand function. These results provide valuable insights into how motion capture can be used to analyse and monitor hand function, but more work is needed to be able to make the assessment easy to administer in the clinic.”