Altered movement trajectories and force control during object transport in Huntington's disease

Authors

  • L. Quinn EdD, PT,

    Corresponding author
    1. Program in Physical Therapy, Graduate School of Health Sciences, New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York, USA
    • Program in Physical Therapy, Graduate School of Health Sciences, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY 10595

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  • R. Reilmann MD,

    1. Department of Biobehavioral Sciences, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
    2. Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
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  • K. Marder MD,

    1. Department of Neurology, Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
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  • A.M. Gordon PhD

    1. Department of Biobehavioral Sciences, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
    2. Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
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Abstract

Individuals with Huntington's Disease (HD) have difficulty grasping and transporting objects, however, the extent to which specific impairments affect their performance is unknown. The present study examined the kinematics and force coordination during transport of an object in 12 subjects with HD and 12 age-matched controls. Subjects grasped an object between their thumb and index finger, transported it 25 cm forward, replaced and released it while their fingertip forces and the object's position were recorded. Five trials were performed with each of three weights (200 g, 400 g, and 800 g). While bradykinesia was evident in subjects with HD, this slowness was not consistently observed in all phases of the movement. The slowness of movement seen during the task appears to be due to impairments in sequencing and the movement strategies selected by the subjects. Compared to control subjects, subjects with HD produced highly curvilinear hand paths and more variable grip forces that were dependent on the weight of the object. Isometric force development and movement speed during transport were unaffected by the disease. The results suggest that prolonged task durations in subjects with HD are not necessarily due to slowness of movement, per se. These findings have clinical implications for understanding the task-specific nature of movement impairments in HD and developing effective intervention strategies. © 2001 Movement Disorder Society.

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