Older adults experience difficulty completing the lines and dots tasks of the Motor Assessment Scale

Michelle Dettrick-Janes, Annie McCluskey, Natasha A. Lannin, Justin Newton Scanlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: The advanced hand activities item of the Motor Assessment Scale (Upper Limb items, UL-MAS) includes the ‘lines’ and ‘dots’ tasks, which require skilful pencil use. Prior Rasch analysis studies identify these two tasks as the most difficult to achieve for stroke survivors compared with the other advanced hand activities. Yet it is unknown if healthy, older adults can perform these two tasks. Objectives: To describe the performance of older adults’ without stroke on the ‘lines’ and ‘dots’ tasks, relationship between age and task performance, and relationship between writing speed and performance on the ‘lines’ task. Methods: Cross-sectional study design. A sample of healthy older Australians (n = 120) aged between 60 and 99 years completed the UL-MAS ‘lines’ and ‘dots’ tasks and wrote two sentences using pencil. Results: Fifty-four participants (45%) failed the UL-MAS ‘lines’ task. Differences in line drawing performance across age groups were statistically significant (chi-square = 9.02, df = 3, p =.03). Eleven participants (9%) failed the ‘dots’ task, mostly from the 90 to 99 year age group. Participants who passed the ‘lines’ task wrote sentences faster than participants who failed (p<.001). Conclusion: Older adults may not pass the UL-MAS ‘lines’ and ‘dots’ tasks due to age and individual skill level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-328
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Elderly
  • handwriting
  • rehabilitation

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