Micrographia is a common, often presenting feature of Parkinson's disease. We assessed a simple writing paradigm in 40 PD patients "off" medications, 40 different PD patients "on" medications, and 64 age- and sex-matched controls. Patients wrote "Today is a nice day" with both eyes open and eyes closed to assess the effects of visual withdrawal (eyes closure). The order (eyes open vs. eyes closed) was alternated. In the "off" medicine group, eye closure increased the writing length by 14.0 +/- 10.1% (P < 0.05) from a mean of 69.1 to 77.7 mm [range -14% to +73%]. The percentage increase was larger in the 20 subjects with the smallest baseline writing size (worse micrographia), compared to the 20 with relatively larger writing (19.5% vs. 7.9%, P < 0.05). Neither the "on" medicine group, nor the control group changed. Simple eye closure significantly increased writing size in "off" PD patients to a similar or greater amount as levodopa. This data suggests that micrographia is not a pure motor hypokinetic feature but is affected by PD similar to other superlearned tasks such as walking. Furthermore, some patients have adapted this simple eye closing strategy when writing, especially signatures.
(c) 2007 Movement Disorder Society.