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Spiralometry: Computerized assessment of tremor amplitude on the basis of spiral drawing


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


Spiral drawing has been used for the assessment of the impact of therapy on motor performance in various movement disorders (e.g. in Parkinson's disease, especially for tremor and hypokinesia). Nevertheless, there are only few guidelines available providing some kind of standardized interpretation. The published protocol with the highest standard is that of Bain and Findley. Kinetic tremor assessed by spiral drawing is not quantified by alternative approaches so far and is not even considered by most rating scales. However, kinetic tremor is quite common and represents a significant impairment in the everyday life of parkinsonian patients. More complex instrumental methods for the quantification of kinetic tremor have not been practical as they, e.g., require relatively expensive equipment or have an unfavourable effort/benefit ratio. We pursued an alternative approach, where we scan drawn spirals to a computer-algorithm that calculates the tremor amplitude. Our standardized method can be applied without difficulty in patients needing only paper and pencil. The evaluation is fully automated, and therefore, it is appropriate for the assessment of therapeutic efficacy in very large populations. The objectivity of the approach represents a significant advantage. In the actual paper, we present how we analyzed the original spirals published by Bain and Findley to validate our computerized assessment. We found a highly significant connection between both methods (explained variance: 88.9%). © 2010 Movement Disorder Society