Amplitude- and velocity-dependency of rigidity measured at the wrist in Parkinson's disease

Douglas Powell, A. Joseph Threlkeld, Xiang Fang, Anburaj Muthumani, Ruiping Xia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective: Quantify the effects of increased amplitude and rate of muscle stretch on parkinsonian rigidity. Methods: Eighteen subjects with Parkinson's disease participated in this study. Subjects' tested hand was passively displaced through 60° and 90° ranges of wrist flexion and extension at velocities of 50°/s and 280°/s in both treated and untreated conditions. Joint angular position, resistance torque, and surface electromyography (EMG) of the wrist flexors and extensors were recorded. Rigidity was quantified by normalized work scores and normalized angular impulses for flexion and extension, separately. Reflex responses of stretched and shortened muscles were quantified by mean EMG and EMG ratio. A series of ANOVAs was performed to determine the effect of amplitude, velocity and medication on selected variables. Results: Both work scores and angular impulses revealed that the larger displacement amplitude and the higher velocity were associated with significantly greater rigidity, increased EMG ratio and mean EMG of stretched muscles. Dopaminergic medication was not associated with a reduction in rigidity. Conclusions: Parkinsonian rigidity is modulated by the amplitude and rate of muscle stretch. Significance: These findings shed light on the biomechanical underpinnings and physiological characteristics of rigidity and may inform clinical rigidity assessment in Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-773
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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