, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 165-172

Force production characteristics in Parkinson's disease

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This experiment examined the preparation and the production of isometric force in Parkinson's disease (PD). PD patients, elderly, and young subjects generated force levels that were a percentage of their maximum (15, 30, 45, and 60%). Subjects were cued on the upcoming target force level and they were asked to produce the required response as fast as possible. PD patients showed a similar progression of force variability and dispersion of peak forces to that of control subjects, implying they have an accurate “internal model” of the required forces. Force production impairments were seen, however, at the within-trial level. PD patients had more irregular force-time curves that were characterized by changes in the rate of force production. The results suggest a more “noisy” output from the motor system and an inability to produce smooth forces. PD patients were also substantially slower in initiating a force production and the delay was localized in the pre-motor reaction time.

This work was supported by grant NS17421 from the NIH