Pantomime and imitation of limb gestures in relation to the severity of Alzheimer's disease

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Abstract

The present study was designed to investigate the relationship between performance of limb gestures and the severity of Alzheimer's disease (A.D.). Apraxia tends to occur at later stages of A.D., and the severity of apraxia has been shown to vary with the severity of A.D. dementia. Participants were 19 mild (including 9 with no cognitive impairment and 10 with mild impairment) and 18 moderate A.D. patients as well as 25 controls and they were asked to pantomime (P) or imitate (both concurrent (CI) and delayed (DI)), eight transitive gestures to assess praxis performance. Results indicated that the moderate patients performed less accurately than mild and non-impaired patients, and that across all groups, the imitation conditions were performed less accurately than pantomime, relative to controls. Correlational analyses revealed that MMSE scores were correlated with all three performance conditions suggesting that impaired praxis performance may relate to more global impairment. Finally, a frequency analysis was conducted to examine whether A.D. patients showed patterns of apraxia as described in Roy's model (1996). Results indicated that A.D. patients showed greatest impairment on pattern 7 (deficits in P, DI, and CI), reflecting late-stage gesture production, with a greater frequency of moderate patients exhibiting each apraxic pattern.

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