An outcome measure to evaluate the neurological function of patients with cervical myelopathy was proposed by the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA score) and has been widely used in Japan. However, the JOA score does not include patients’ satisfaction, disability, handicaps, or general health, which can be affected by cervical myelopathy. In 2007, a new outcome measure, the Japanese Orthopaedic Association Cervical Myelopathy Evaluation Questionnaire (JOACMEQ), which is a self-administered questionnaire, was developed. However, the influence of age and gender on the scores has not been fully examined. The purpose of this study was to establish the standard value of the JOACMEQ by age using healthy volunteers.
This study was conducted in 23 university hospitals and their affiliated hospitals from September to December 2011. The questionnaire included 24 questions for evaluation of physical function of the cervical spine and spinal cord. A total of 1,629 healthy volunteers were recruited for the study. The ages ranged from 20 to 89 years old.
The volunteers comprised 798 men and 831 women. In the elderly healthy volunteers, the JOACMEQ scores decreased with age. In general, the scores for cervical spine function and upper/lower extremity function were retained up to the 60s, then decreased in the 70s and 80s. The scores for quality of life were retained up to the 70s; however, the score for bladder function was retained up to the 40s, then declined with age from the 50s to 80s.
The standard values of the JOACMEQ by age were established. Differences in the scores were found among different generations. Patients with cervical myelopathy should be evaluated with this new self-administered questionnaire taking into account the standard values according to different ages.