Quantitative measurements of alternating finger tapping in Parkinson's disease correlate with UPDRS motor disability and reveal the improvement in fine motor control from medication and deep brain stimulation. Movement disorders Taylor Tavares, A. L., Jefferis, G. S., Koop, M., Hill, B. C., Hastie, T., Heit, G., Bronte-Stewart, H. M. 2005; 20 (10): 1286-1298


The Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) is the primary outcome measure in most clinical trials of Parkinson's disease (PD) therapeutics. Each subscore of the motor section (UPDRS III) compresses a wide range of motor performance into a coarse-grained scale from 0 to 4; the assessment of performance can also be subjective. Quantitative digitography (QDG) is an objective, quantitative assessment of digital motor control using a computer-interfaced musical keyboard. In this study, we show that the kinematics of a repetitive alternating finger-tapping (RAFT) task using QDG correlate with the UPDRS motor score, particularly with the bradykinesia subscore, in 33 patients with PD. We show that dopaminergic medication and an average of 9.5 months of bilateral subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (B-STN DBS) significantly improve UPDRS and QDG scores but may have different effects on certain kinematic parameters. This study substantiates the use of QDG to measure motor outcome in trials of PD therapeutics and shows that medication and B-STN DBS both improve fine motor control.

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