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Testing objective measures of motor impairment in early Parkinson's disease: Feasibility study of an at-home testing device

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  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

Abstract

We tested the feasibility of a computer based at-home testing device (AHTD) in early-stage, unmedicated Parkinson's disease (PD) patients over 6 months. We measured compliance, technical reliability, and patient satisfaction to weekly assessments of tremor, small and large muscle bradykinesia, speech, reaction/movement times, and complex motor control. relative to the UPDRS motor score. The AHTD is a 6.5″ × 10″ computerized assessment battery. Data are stored on a USB memory stick and sent by internet to a central data repository as encrypted data packets. Although not designed or powered to measure change, the study collected data to observe patterns relative to UPDRS motor scores. Fifty-two PD patients enrolled, and 50 completed the 6 month trial, 48 remaining without medication. Patients complied with 90.6% of weekly 30-minute assessments, and 98.5% of data packets were successfully transmitted and decrypted. On a 100-point scale, patient satisfaction with the program at study end was 87.2 (range: 80–100). UPDRS motor scores significantly worsened over 6 months, and trends for worsening over time occurred for alternating finger taps (P = 0.08), tremor (P = 0.06) and speech (P = 0.11). Change in tremor was a significant predictor of change in UPDRS (P = 0.047) and was detected in the first month of the study. This new computer-based technology offers a feasible format for assessing PD-related impairment from home. The high patient compliance and satisfaction suggest the feasibility of its incorporation into larger clinical trials, especially when travel is difficult and early changes or frequent data collection are considered important to document. © 2008 Movement Disorder Society

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