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Special Test

Hoover Test

The Hoover Test or sign is useful for evaluating suspected non-organic leg weakness or evaluation of malingering. It is used to identify if a patient is actually exerting effort during the testing procedure.

See Also: Straight Leg Raise (Lasegue Test)

How do you perform the Hoover Test?

The patient relaxes in a supine position on the table, while the examiner is at the feet of the patient with the evaluator’s hands cupping the calcaneus of each leg.

The patient is asked to attempt an active straight leg raise (SLR) on the involved side.

Hoover sign

What does a positive Hoover sign mean?

If the patient does not lift the leg or the examiner does not feel pressure under the opposite heel, the patient is probably not really trying or may be malingering. If the lifted limb is weaker, pressure under the normal heel increases, because of the increased effort to lift the weak leg off the examination table. Often patients will report that they cannot raise the leg at all.

Both sides have to be compared for differences.

Hoover Test
The examiner places both of the subject’s heels into the palm of the examiner’s hands
Hoover Test
The patient is asked to perform a unilateral straight leg raise, and the examiner should feel a pressure under the opposite heel

Reliability

In a cohort study on 337 patients presenting with suspected stroke, Hoover’s sign was moderately sensitive and very specific for a diagnosis of functional weakness. Further studies are required to assess inter-observer variability and performance of the test in larger numbers of patients with functional weakness.

  • Sensitivity: 63%
  • Specificity: 100%

Notes

Although the contemporary clinical use of the Hoover Test is to identify patients who may be malingering, its original purpose was to diagnose mild cases of hemiparesis. Patients with unilateral weakness would yield a positive test but would not be malingering.

An extension movement of one leg normally accompanies flexion of the other leg, as in walking.

In organic leg weakness, the downward pressure of the contralateral heel occurs when the patient tries to raise the weak leg, and the examiner can feel the extension pressure by placing a hand beneath the heel that remains on the bed. In nonorganic leg weakness, there is no downward pressure of the contralateral heel as the patient tries to raise the weak leg, but an extension movement of the “paralyzed” leg may be felt as the good leg is raised.

Hoover sign is the absence of the expected extension movement of the good leg on attempting to raise the bad leg and normal involuntary extension of the bad leg on raising the good leg.

The Hoover test is a classic procedure used to determine whether the individual is malingering during the performance of functional and selective tissue tests.

References

  1. Hoover CF. A new sign for the detection of malingering and functional paresis of the lower extremities. JAMA 1908;51:746–747.
  2. McWhirter L, Stone J, Sandercock P, Whiteley W. Hoover’s sign for the diagnosis of functional weakness: a prospective unblinded cohort study in patients with suspected stroke. J Psychosom Res. 2011 Dec;71(6):384-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2011.09.003. Epub 2011 Oct 6. PMID: 22118379.
  3. Arieff AJ The Hoover sign an objective sign of pain and/or weakness in the back or lower extremities. Trans Am Neural Assoc 1961 ;86:191 .
  4. Archibald, AC, and Wiechec, F: A reappraisal of Hoover’s test. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 51:234, 1970.
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