Voluntary motor impairment is a functionally important aspect of Huntington's disease (HD). Therefore, quantitative assessment of disturbed voluntary movement might be important in follow-up. We investigated the relation between quantitatively assessed daytime motor activity and symptom severity in HD and evaluated whether assessment of daytime motor activity is a responsive measure in the follow-up of patients.
Sixty-four consecutive HD patients and 67 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were studied. Daytime motor activity was recorded using a wrist-worn activity monitor that counts all movements during a period of five consecutive days. Patients were rated clinically for voluntary motor impairment, dyskinesias, posture & gait, depression, cognitive impairment and functional capacity. Follow-up was available from 40 patients (mean follow-up 2.0 years) and 29 controls (mean follow-up 5.9 years).
Despite chorea, patients had less daytime motor activity than controls (P < 0.005). This hypokinesia correlated with impaired voluntary movements (r = 0.37; P < 0.01), disturbed posture & gait (r = 0.38; P < 0.005) and especially with reduced functional capacity (r = 0.51; P < 0.0005). During follow-up, hypokinesia remained unchanged in clinically stable patients, but became worse in those whose functional disability progressed (P < 0.005).
Hypokinesia seems a core symptom of HD which is related to functional capacity. Actimetric assessment of hypokinesia is responsive to disease progression and can be used as an objective tool for follow-up. © 2001 Movement Disorder Society.