Handedness correlates with the dominant Parkinson side: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Mov Disord. 2012 Feb;27(2):206-10. doi: 10.1002/mds.24007. Epub 2011 Oct 12.


Parkinson's disease (PD) characteristically presents with asymmetrical symptoms, contralateral to the side of the most extensive cerebral affection. This intriguing asymmetry, even included in the definition for diagnosing PD, however, is still part of a mystery. The relation with handedness as a common indicator of cerebral asymmetry might provide a clue in the search for causal factors of asymmetrical symptom onset in PD. This possible relationship, however, is still under debate. The objective of this study was to establish whether a relation between handedness and dominant PD side exists. We searched for cross-sectional or cohort studies that registered handedness and onset side in PD patients in PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science from their first record until 14 February 2011. Data about handedness and dominant PD side was extracted. Authors who registered both but not described their relation were contacted for further information. Odds ratios (ORs) were analyzed with a fixed effect Mantel-Haenszel model. Heterogeneity and indications of publication bias were limited. Our electronic search identified 10 studies involving 4405 asymmetric PD patients. Of the right-handed patients, 2413 (59.5%) had right-dominant and 1644 (40.5%) had left-dominant PD symptoms. For the left-handed patients this relation was reversed, with 142 (40.8%) right-dominant and 206 (59.2%) left-dominant PD symptoms. Overall OR was 2.13 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.71-2.66). Handedness and symptom dominance in PD are firmly related with each other in such a way that the PD symptoms emerge more often on the dominant hand-side. Possible causal factors are discussed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*