Biased wrist and finger coordination in Parkinsonian patients during performance of graphical tasks

Natalia Dounskaia, Arend W A Van Gemmert, Berta C. Leis, George E. Stelmach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Handwriting impairments in Parkinson's disease (PD) have been associated with micrographia, i.e. diminished letter size. However, dyscoordination of the wrist and fingers may also contribute to handwriting deterioration in PD. To investigate this hypothesis, right-handed PD patients and controls were tested in performance of three types of cyclic wrist and finger movements: drawing of two lines and a circle. The line drawing was performed with either simultaneous flexion and extension of the wrist and fingers (equivalent pattern resulting in a right-tilted line) or with wrist flexion/extension accompanied with finger extension/flexion (nonequivalent pattern resulting in a left-tilted line). Circle drawing required a specific phase difference between wrist and finger motions. Movements were performed with an inkless pen on a digitizer-tablet at two frequency levels. Consistent deformations of the circle into right-tilted ovals and lower variability in equivalent compared with nonequivalent lines revealed preference to produce right-tilted shapes. This preference became more apparent with increased movement speed and it was amplified in PD patients. Analysis revealed that the circle deformation emerged mainly due to reduction in relative phase, while wrist and finger amplitudes remained unchanged. The results suggest that PD causes deficit characterized by strong tendency to produce certain coordination patterns between wrist and finger motions. This deficit may significantly contribute to handwriting impairments in PD by reducing the dexterity in the production of the variety of shapes of the cursive letters. Furthermore, the deficiency revealed in wrist and finger coordination may represent a more general deficit affecting control of various multi-joint movements in PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2504-2514
Number of pages11
Issue number12
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Coordination
  • Disorder
  • Handwriting
  • Kinematiks
  • Movement
  • Multi-joint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Biased wrist and finger coordination in Parkinsonian patients during performance of graphical tasks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this