To design, develop and set up a web-based system for enabling graphical visualization of upper limb motor performance (ULMP) of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients to clinicians.
Sixty-five patients diagnosed with advanced PD have used a test battery, implemented in a touch-screen handheld computer, in their home environment settings over the course of a 3-year clinical study. The test items consisted of objective measures of ULMP through a set of upper limb motor tests (finger to tapping and spiral drawings). For the tapping tests, patients were asked to perform alternate tapping of two buttons as fast and accurate as possible, first using the right hand and then the left hand. The test duration was 20 seconds. For the spiral drawing test, patients traced a pre-drawn Archimedes spiral using the dominant hand, and the test was repeated 3 times per test occasion. In total, the study database consisted of symptom assessments during 10079 test occasions.
Visualization of ULMP
The web-based system is used by two neurologists for assessing the performance of PD patients during motor tests collected over the course of the said study. The system employs animations, scatter plots and time series graphs to visualize the ULMP of patients to the neurologists. The performance during spiral tests is depicted by animating the three spiral drawings, allowing the neurologists to observe real-time accelerations or hesitations and sharp changes during the actual drawing process. The tapping performance is visualized by displaying different types of graphs. Information presented included distribution of taps over the two buttons, horizontal tap distance vs. time, vertical tap distance vs. time, and tapping reaction time over the test length.
Different scales are utilized by the neurologists to assess the observed impairments. For the spiral drawing performance, the neurologists rated firstly the ‘impairment’ using a 0 (no impairment) – 10 (extremely severe) scale, secondly three kinematic properties: ‘drawing speed’, ‘irregularity’ and ‘hesitation’ using a 0 (normal) – 4 (extremely severe) scale, and thirdly the probable ‘cause’ for the said impairment using 3 choices including Tremor, Bradykinesia/Rigidity and Dyskinesia. For the tapping performance, a 0 (normal) – 4 (extremely severe) scale is used for first rating four tapping properties: ‘tapping speed’, ‘accuracy’, ‘fatigue’, ‘arrhythmia’, and then the ‘global tapping severity’ (GTS). To achieve a common basis for assessment, initially one neurologist (DN) performed preliminary ratings by browsing through the database to collect and rate at least 20 samples of each GTS level and at least 33 samples of each ‘cause’ category. These preliminary ratings were then observed by the two neurologists (DN and PG) to be used as templates for rating of tests afterwards. In another track, the system randomly selected one test occasion per patient and visualized its items, that is tapping and spiral drawings, to the two neurologists.
Inter-rater agreements were assessed using weighted Kappa coefficient. The internal consistency of properties of tapping and spiral drawing tests were assessed using Cronbach’s α test. One-way ANOVA test followed by Tukey multiple comparisons test was used to test if mean scores of properties of tapping and spiral drawing tests were different among GTS and ‘cause’ categories, respectively.
When rating tapping graphs, inter-rater agreements (Kappa) were as follows: GTS (0.61), ‘tapping speed’ (0.89), ‘accuracy’ (0.66), ‘fatigue’ (0.57) and ‘arrhythmia’ (0.33). The poor inter-rater agreement when assessing “arrhythmia” may be as a result of observation of different things in the graphs, among the two raters. When rating animated spirals, both raters had very good agreement when assessing severity of spiral drawings, that is, ‘impairment’ (0.85) and irregularity (0.72). However, there were poor agreements between the two raters when assessing ‘cause’ (0.38) and time-information properties like ‘drawing speed’ (0.25) and ‘hesitation’ (0.21). Tapping properties, that is ‘tapping speed’, ‘accuracy’, ‘fatigue’ and ‘arrhythmia’ had satisfactory internal consistency with a Cronbach’s α coefficient of 0.77. In general, the trends of mean scores of tapping properties worsened with increasing levels of GTS. The mean scores of the four properties were significantly different to each other, only at different levels. In contrast from tapping properties, kinematic properties of spirals, that is ‘drawing speed’, ‘irregularity’ and ‘hesitation’ had a questionable consistency among them with a coefficient of 0.66. Bradykinetic spirals were associated with more impaired speed (mean = 83.7 % worse, P < 0.001) and hesitation (mean = 77.8% worse, P < 0.001), compared to dyskinetic spirals. Both these ‘cause’ categories had similar mean scores of ‘impairment’ and ‘irregularity’.
In contrast from current approaches used in clinical setting for the assessment of PD symptoms, this system enables clinicians to animate easily and realistically the ULMP of patients who at the same time are at their homes. Dynamic access of visualized motor tests may also be useful when observing and evaluating therapy-related complications such as under- and over-medications. In future, we foresee to utilize these manual ratings for developing and validating computer methods for automating the process of assessing ULMP of PD patients.
Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. S112-S113 p.
Data visualization; Fine motor tests; Spiral drawings; Tapping tests; Telemedicine; Assessment tools;
The Movement Disorder Society's 17th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders, June 16-20 2013