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Manual transport in Parkinson's disease



We analyze hand dexterity in Parkinson's disease patients (PD) and control subjects using a natural manual transport task (moving an object from one place to another). Eight PD patients and 10 control subjects carried out the task repeatedly at maximum speed both in off and on medicated status. The movement parameters and the grip and load forces were recorded. Using the force and velocity signals, 10 subsequent phases of the transport movement were defined and their durations were measured. The difference between the control group and the test group in off and on was established statistically using non-parametric methods. There was slowed reaching and a striking disturbance of establishing the precision grip in PD. The transport capabilities were impaired differentially. Although acceleration and reaching sufficient height of the lift were disturbed in PD subjects, transport of the object toward the target position was almost normal. A partial disturbance was observed when cancelling the grip. Dopaminergic medication improved only specific hand skills, especially establishment of the precision grip and one of the four transport phases. A long movement path was more sensitive for movement disturbance in Parkinson's disease than a short one.© 2003 Movement Disorder Society