A controversial concept suggests that impaired finger dexterity in Parkinson's disease may be related to limb kinetic apraxia that is not explained by elemental motor deficits such as bradykinesia. To explore the nature of dexterous difficulties, the aim of the present study was to assess the relationship of finger dexterity with ideomotor praxis function and parkinsonian symptoms. Twenty-five patients with Parkinson's disease participated in the study. Their left and right arms were tested independently. Testing was done in an OFF and ON state as defined by a modified version of the Movement Disorder Society-Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS). Finger dexterity was assessed by a coin rotation (CR) task and ideomotor praxis using a novel test of upper limb apraxia (TULIA), in which the patients were requested to imitate and pantomime 48 meaningless, as well as communicative and tool-related gestures. Coin rotation significantly correlated with TULIA irrespective of the motor state and arm involved, but not with the MDS-UPDRS. This association was significantly influenced by Hoehn and Yahr stage. The strong association of finger dexterity with praxis function but not the parkinsonian symptoms indicates that impaired finger dexterity in Parkinson's disease may be indeed apraxic in nature, yet, predominantly in advanced stages of the disease when cortical pathology is expected to develop. The findings are discussed within a cognitive-motor model of praxis function.
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