Somatosensory representation of the digits and clinical performance in patients with focal hand dystonia

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2003 Oct;82(10):737-49. doi: 10.1097/01.PHM.0000087458.32122.14.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to incorporate magnetoencephalography and clinical testing to describe differences in somatosensory organization and sensorimotor function of the hand in patients with focal hand dystonia, a target-specific disorder of voluntary movement that interferes with fine motor control during the performance of rapid, repetitive, skilled movements.

Design: This descriptive study included prospective, quasi-experimental comparisons between groups.

Results: Patients with focal hand dystonia demonstrated deficits in physical variables, sensory processing, and motor control when compared with age- and sex-matched controls. They also had altered patterns of firing (amplitude and latency integrated over time) and abnormal somatosensory representations on magnetoencephalography.

Conclusions: These study findings suggest that there are alterations in both somatosensory representation of the digits and clinical performance in patients with focal hand dystonia. Future studies to determine if alterations in the sensorimotor feedback loop contribute to the development of focal hand dystonia are indicated. If so, intervention strategies may need to include specific types of somatosensory retraining as part of the rehabilitation program for patients with focal hand dystonia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dystonia / physiopathology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hand / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiopathology*