Disruptions in joint control during drawing arm movements in Parkinson's disease

Natalia Dounskaia, Caroline J. Ketcham, Berta C. Leis, George E. Stelmach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Impairments in control of multi-joint arm movements in Parkinson's Disease (PD) were investigated. The PD patients and age-matched elderly participants performed cyclical arm movements, tracking templates of a large circle and four differentially oriented ovals on a horizontal table. The wrist was immobilized and the movements were performed with shoulder and elbow rotations. The task was performed with and without vision at a cycling frequency of 1.5 Hz. Traces of the arm endpoint, joint-motion parameters represented by range of motion and relative phase, and joint-control characteristics represented by amplitude and timing of muscle torque were analyzed. The PD patients provided deformations of the template shapes that were not observed in movements of elderly controls. The deformations were consistent for each shape but differed across the shapes, making quantification of impairments in the endpoint movement difficult. In contrast, the characteristics of joint control and motion demonstrated systematic changes across all shapes in movements of PD patients, although some of these changes were observed only without vision. A specification of the PD influence was observed at the level of joint control and it was not distinguishable in joint and endpoint motion, because of the property of multi-joint movements during which control at each joint influences motion at the other joints. The results suggest that inability of PD patients to provide fine muscle torque regulation coordinated across the joints contributes to the altered endpoint trajectories during multi-joint movements. The study emphasizes the importance of the torque analysis when deficits in multi-joint movements are investigated, because specific impairments that can be detected in joint-control characteristics are difficult to trace in characteristics of joint and endpoint kinematics, because of interactions between joint motions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-322
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Arm movement
  • Coordination
  • Interactive torque
  • Multi-joint
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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