Electrical perceptual threshold testing: A validation study

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Journal Article
Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, 2009, 32 (2), pp. 140 - 146
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Background/Objective: To investigate inter-rater and intra-rater reliability of electrical perceptual threshold (EPT) testing in assessing somatosensory function in healthy volunteers. Study Design: Prospective experimental. Setting: Hospital-based spinal cord injuries unit. Methods: Cutaneous electrical stimulation of 4 dermatomes at ASIA sensory key points (C3, T1, L3, and S2) was performed on 40 control subjects. The lowest ascending stimulus intensity at which sensation was perceived was recorded as the EPT. Mean EPT values for each dermatome, as determined by 2 testers at 2 time points, were examined and plotted against a normative template. Differences and associations between intra- and inter-rater measurements and left-right measurements were studied. EPT results for 2 people with spinal cord injuries were also examined. Results: EPT measurements from left and right sides, obtained from the 2 time points and 2 testers, were found to be strongly associated, with the exception of left and right side measurements at the S2 dermatome. No significant differences in the mean EPT for tester or time period were found. The intra- and inter-rater reliability was good for all dermatomes tested. Mean EPT measurements fell within the range of a normative template at each of the 4 dermatomes tested. Conclusion: EPT is an objective, reproducible, and quantifiable method of assessing sensation in a control group. However, caution should be applied in certain dermatomes such as S2, where there was large variation between left and right side measurements. © 2009 by the American Paraplegia Society.
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