Quantitative measurement of trunk rigidity in parkinsonian patients

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We aimed to develop an objective measurement to quantify trunk rigidity in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), and to examine its reliability, validity and sensitivity in differentiating PD patients from control subjects. In Study 1, an isokinetic dynamometer was employed to assess trunk rigidity in 6 PD patients and 6 healthy controls. Passive trunk flexion and extension at 4 angular velocities were applied and resistive torques were recorded. Both work done and resistive peak torques to passive trunk flexion (TorquePF) and extension (TorquePE) were found to be highly reliable within a 2-day interval in PD patients and control subjects. In Study 2, trunk muscle tone was compared between 15 PD and 15 control subjects. Significantly higher muscle tone, as shown by increases in work done, and in TorquePF and TorquePE at higher movement speeds, was found in PD patients. Within each subject group, resistive trunk muscle tone was found to increase with increasing velocity of passive movement, but the extent of increase was greater in PD patients. Our results thus suggest that the objective method developed by us was reliable and could differentiate trunk rigidity in PD patients from that of healthy subjects.

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