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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation 1/2017

Assessing upper limb function: transcultural adaptation and validation of the Portuguese version of the Stroke Upper Limb Capacity Scale

BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation > Ausgabe 1/2017
João Paulo Branco, Sandra Oliveira, João Páscoa Pinheiro, Pedro L. Ferreira



Brachial hemiparesis is one of the most frequent sequelae of stroke, leading to important functional disability given the role of the upper limb in executing activities of daily living (ADL). The Stroke Upper Limb Capacity Scale (SULCS) is a stroke-specific assessment instrument that evaluates functional capacity of the upper limb based on the execution of 10 tasks. The objective of this study is the transcultural adaptation and psychometric validation of the Portuguese version of the SULCS.


A Portuguese version of the SULCS was developed, using the process of forward-backward translation, after authorisation from the author of the original scale. Then, a multicentre study was conducted in Portuguese stroke patients (n = 122) to validate the psychometric properties of the instrument. The relationship between sociodemographic and clinical characteristics was used to test construct validity. The relationship between SULCS scores and other instruments was used to test criterion validity.


Semantic and linguistic adaptation of the SULCS was executed without substantial issues and allowed the development of a Portuguese version. The application of this instrument suggested the existence of celling effect (19.7% of participants with maximum score). Reliability was demonstrated through the intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.98. As for construct validity, SULCS was sensible to muscle tonus and aphasia. SULCS classification impacted the scores of the Motor Evaluation Scale for Upper Extremity in Stroke (MESUPES) and the Stroke Impact Scale (SIS).


The present version of SULCS shows valid and reliable cultural adaptation, with good reliability and stability.
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