, Volume 227, Issue 3, pp 323-331
Date: 18 May 2013

Comparing kinematic changes between a finger-tapping task and unconstrained finger flexion–extension task in patients with Parkinson’s disease

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Repetitive finger tapping is a well-established clinical test for the evaluation of parkinsonian bradykinesia, but few studies have investigated other finger movement modalities. We compared the kinematic changes (movement rate and amplitude) and response to levodopa during a conventional index finger–thumb-tapping task and an unconstrained index finger flexion–extension task performed at maximal voluntary rate (MVR) for 20 s in 11 individuals with levodopa-responsive Parkinson’s disease (OFF and ON) and 10 healthy age-matched controls. Between-task comparisons showed that for all conditions, the initial movement rate was greater for the unconstrained flexion–extension task than the tapping task. Movement rate in the OFF state was slower than in controls for both tasks and normalized in the ON state. The movement amplitude was also reduced for both tasks in OFF and increased in the ON state but did not reach control levels. The rate and amplitude of movement declined significantly for both tasks under all conditions (OFF/ON and controls). The time course of rate decline was comparable for both tasks and was similar in OFF/ON and controls, whereas the tapping task was associated with a greater decline in MA, both in controls and ON, but not OFF. The findings indicate that both finger movement tasks show similar kinematic changes during a 20-s sustained MVR, but that movement amplitude is less well sustained during the tapping task than the unconstrained finger movement task. Both movement rate and amplitude improved with levodopa; however, movement rate was more levodopa responsive than amplitude.