Medication and trial duration influence postural and pointing parameters during a standing repetitive pointing task in individuals with Parkinson’s disease

Deborah A. Jehu, Hiram Cantù, Allen Hill, Caroline Paquette, Julie N. Côté, Julie Nantel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We aimed to determine the effects of levodopa medication on the performance of a repetitive pointing task while standing, and to investigate the optimal trial duration in individuals with Parkinson’s disease, and older adults. Seventeen individuals with Parkinson’s disease (5 freezers) and 9 older adults stood on force platforms for 30 s and 120 s while performing a bilateral repetitive pointing task, tracked by motion capture. Participants with Parkinson’s disease were assessed on and off medication and older adults were also assessed on separate days. The main findings were that: 1) on medication, participants with Parkinson’s exhibited greater center of pressure root mean square in the medial-lateral direction, greater velocity in the medial-lateral and anterior-posterior directions, and greater range in the medial-lateral direction than off medication; 2) longer trial durations resulted in greater center of pressure range in the medial-lateral and anterior-posterior directions and greater coefficient of variation in finger pointing on the least affected side; 3) Parkinson’s participants exhibited larger range in the medial-lateral direction compared to older adults; 4) off medication, freezers presented with less range and root mean square in the anterior-posterior direction than non-freezers; and 5) a correlation emerged between the freezing of gait questionnaire and pointing asymmetry and the coefficient of variation of pointing on the most affected side. Therefore, Parkinson’s medication may increase instability during a repetitive pointing task. Longer trials may provide a better depiction of sway by discriminating between those with and without neurological impairment. Individuals with Parkinson’s were less stable than older adults, supporting that they are at a greater risk for falls. The greater restrictive postural strategy in freezers compared to non-freezers is likely a factor that augments fall-risk. Lastly, the link between freezing of gait and upper-limb movement indicates that freezing may manifest first in the lower-limbs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0195322
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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