Combined measures of movement and force variability distinguish Parkinson's disease from essential tremor

Cynthia Poon, Julie A. Robichaud, Daniel M. Corcos, Jennifer G. Goldman, D. E. Vaillancourt David E.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine whether behavioral and electrophysiological measures of motor performance accurately differentiate Parkinson's disease (PD) and essential tremor (ET). Methods: Twenty-four patients (12 PD; 12 ET) performed isometric force, ballistic movements, and tremor tasks. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were conducted on all dependent measures that were significantly different between the two patient groups. Results: Patients with PD were more impaired on measures of movement deceleration than ET. Patients with ET were more impaired on measures of force variability than PD. ROC analyses revealed that sensitivity and specificity were excellent when combining measures during the isometric force task (torque rise time and force variability; 92% sensitivity and 92% specificity; AUC. =0.97). When combining measures across the force and movement tasks, the ROC analysis revealed improved sensitivity and specificity (force variability and peak deceleration; 92% sensitivity and 100% specificity; AUC. =0.99). Conclusions: Combining measures of force variability and movement deceleration accurately differentiate patients with PD from those with ET with high sensitivity and specificity. Significance: If validated in a larger sample, these measures can serve as markers to confirm the diagnosis of PD or ET and thus, enhance decision making for appropriate treatments for patients with these respective diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2268-2275
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Biomarker
  • Bradykinesia
  • Essential tremor
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)


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