Force control and disease severity in Parkinson's disease

Julie A. Robichaud*, Kerstin D. Pfann, David E. Vaillancourt, Cynthia L. Comella, Daniel M. Corcos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Several measures of isometric contractions reflect motor impairments in subjects with Parkinson's disease (PD), including long relaxation times and greater power in the 5 to 15 Hz electromyographic (EMG) bandwidth during the holding phase of contractions compared to those measures in healthy subjects. We sought to determine whether the impairments observed in subjects with PD in the performance of isometric contractions reflect disease severity. Twenty-eight subjects with PD performed isometric contractions at a torque level equal to 50% of the torque generated during a maximum voluntary contraction while off medication. Subjects were instructed to reach the target torque as fast as possible upon hearing the auditory "go" signal and to relax their muscles when a second auditory cue signaled the end of the hold phase. There was a significant positive correlation between torque relaxation time and Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS)-Motor score. A significant positive correlation was also observed between the proportion of power in the 5 to 15 Hz frequency bin of the agonist EMG signal and UPDRS-Motor score, and a significant negative correlation between the proportion of power in the 15 to 30 Hz frequency bin and UPDRS-Motor score. These measures provide objective quantification of the severity of motor impairment that can be used to investigate the efficacy of different interventions in individuals with PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-450
Number of pages10
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Disease severity
  • EMG
  • Frequency analysis
  • Isometric contractions
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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