Procedure for the quantitative evaluation of motor disturbances in cerebellar ataxic patients

Maurizio Ferrarin, M. Gironi, L. Mendozzi, R. Nemni, P. Mazzoleni, M. Rabuffetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cerebellar ataxia is a complex motor disturbance that involves the planning and execution of movements and reduces movement accuracy and co-ordination. The quantification of ataxic signs is commonly realised through visual examination of motor tasks performed by the patient and assignment of scores to specific items composing the international co-operative ataxia rating scale (ICARS). The present work studied an experimental procedure to characterise specific aspects of motor disturbances in ataxia objectively. Four tests belonging to the ICARS were considered. walking, knee-tibia test, finger-to-nose and finger-to-finger test. Through a kinematic analysis performed during the above tests, specific indices were defined to quantify velocity, linearity, asymmetry, tremor, instability and smoothness of movement or posture. The procedure was applied to five patients with cerebellar ataxia and to ten healthy adult subjects. Results demonstrated that the patients moved significantly more slowly than the healthy subjects (0.67 against 0.97ms-1 and 0.81 against 1.02 m s-1, respectively, for straight walk and finger-to-nose tests) and showed poorer linearity and smoothness behaviour. Velocity, linearity, tremor, smoothness and instability indices showed moderate to good correlation with the corresponding ICARS score. Some of these indices can separately evaluate aspects that are combined in single ICARS subscores. It is concluded that the combination of clinical assessments and instrumental evaluations allows a better insight into ataxic patients' motor disturbances and is a useful tool for the definition and follow-up of rehabilitation programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-356
Number of pages8
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


  • Ataxia
  • Motor rehabilitation
  • Movement analysis
  • Movement disorders
  • Tremor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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