Handwriting is often impaired in Parkinson's disease (PD). Several studies have shown that writing in PD benefits from the use of cues. However, this was typically studied with writing and drawing sizes that are usually not used in daily life.
This study examines the effect of visual cueing on a prewriting task at small amplitudes (≤1.0 cm) in PD patients and healthy controls to better understand the working action of cueing for writing.
A total of 15 PD patients and 15 healthy, age-matched controls performed a prewriting task at 0.6 cm and 1.0 cm in the presence and absence of visual cues (target lines). Writing amplitude, variability of amplitude, and speed were chosen as dependent variables, measured using a newly developed touch-sensitive tablet.
Cueing led to immediate improvements in writing size, variability of writing size, and speed in both groups in the 1.0 cm condition. However, when writing at 0.6 cm with cues, a decrease in writing size was apparent in both groups (P < .001) and the difference in variability of amplitude between cued and uncued writing disappeared. In addition, the writing speed of controls decreased when the cue was present.
Visual target lines of 1.0 cm improved the writing of sequential loops in contrast to lines spaced at 0.6 cm. These results illustrate that, unlike for gait, visual cueing for fine-motor tasks requires a differentiated approach, taking into account the possible increases of accuracy constraints imposed by cueing.
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