Improvement of the Van Lieshout hand function test for Tetraplegia using a Rasch analysis

A. I. F. Spooren*, C. Arnould, R. J. E. M. Smeets, H. M. H. Bongers, H. A. M. Seelen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Study design: Cross-sectional study Objective: The Van Lieshout hand function test for tetraplegia (VLT) measures the quality of arm-hand functioning in persons with tetraplegia. It is valid, reliable and responsive. However, it does not satisfy all the criteria for interval level measurement. The present study aims to apply the Rasch model to the VLT short form (VLT-SF) to upgrade its scale type towards interval level, and to verify if the requirements of an objective measure are satisfied in the revised version. Setting: Eight Dutch Rehabilitation centres. Methods: The VLT-SF data of 73 tetraplegic patients were Rasch-analysed (RUMM2030 software, RUMM Laboratory Pty Ltd, Perth, Australia) to verify the order of response categories, unidimensionality and reliability of the VLT-SF, and to assess its applicability regardless of (motor) lesion completeness. Results: Seven of the ten VLT-SF items showed disordered response categories. The six original response categories were therefore recoded into three or four categories. After recoding, all items satisfied the model requirement of unidimensionality. The items were relatively well-targeted on the subjects' arm-hand skilled performance measures, leading to a good person separation index (R = 0.91). The difficulty hierarchy of the VLT-SF items was invariant across patient subgroups of (motor) lesion completeness. Conclusions: Provided that response categories are recoded, VLT-SF Rasch analysis showed that the requirements of an objective measure were satisfied. This allows to compare the measurements of different patients quantitatively, and to follow their results over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-744
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • hand function test
  • tetraplegia
  • Rasch analysis
  • upper extremity


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