Impairment of individual finger movements in Parkinson's disease

Rocco Agostino, Antonio Currà, Morena Giovannelli, Nicola Modugno, Mario Manfredi, Alfredo Berardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By analyzing the kinematics of repetitive, constant-amplitude, finger oppositions, we compared the impairment of individual and nonindividual finger movements in patients with Parkinson's disease. In one task, subjects tapped only the index finger against the thumb (individual oppositions); in the other task, they tapped all four fingers together against the thumb pad (nonindividual oppositions). We used an optoelectronic motion analysis system to record movements in three-dimensional space and recorded three 5-second trials for each task. We counted how many finger oppositions subjects performed during each trial and measured the duration and amplitude of the flexions and extensions. We also calculated the duration of the pauses after flexion and extension. We assessed the deterioration of motor performance in patients by investigating the changes in speed and amplitude with task completion. During both tasks, normal subjects and patients performed finger flexions faster than extensions, and they invariably paused longer after flexion than after extension. Patients performed individual and nonindividual finger movements slowly and with reduced amplitude. Patients were disproportionately slow during flexion and in switching from flexion to extension. Movement slowness increased as finger oppositions progressed but predominantly when patients had to move fingers individually. In conclusion, in patients with Parkinson's disease, the motor performance deteriorated with task completion more during individual than during nonindividual finger movements. Parkinson's disease, therefore, impairs individual finger movements more than gross hand movements. This distinction reflects the finer cortical control needed to promote and sustain this highly fractionated type of motor output.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-565
Number of pages6
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2003


  • Individual finger movements
  • Kinematic analysis
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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