A retrospective analysis of hand tapping as a longitudinal marker of disease progression in Huntington's disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Current clinical assessments of motor function in Huntington's Disease (HD) rely on subjective ratings such as the Unified Huntington's Disease Rating scale (UHDRS). The ability to track disease progression using simple, objective, inexpensive, and robust measures would be beneficial.

METHODS: One objective measure of motor performance is hand-tapping. Over the last 14 years we have routinely collected, using a simple device, the number of taps made by the right and left hand over 30 seconds in HD patients attending our NHS clinics.

RESULTS: Here we report on a longitudinal cohort of 237 patients, which includes patients at all stages of the disease on a wide range of drug therapies. Hand tapping in these patients declines linearly at a rate of 5.1 taps per year (p < 0.0001; 95% CI = 3.8 to 6.3 taps), and for each additional year of age patients could perform 0.9 fewer taps (main effect of age: p = 0.0007; 95% CI = 0.4 to 1.4). Individual trajectories can vary widely around this average rate of decline, and much of this variation could be attributed to CAG repeat length. Genotype information was available for a subset of 151 patients, and for each additional repeat, patients could perform 5.6 fewer taps (p < 0.0001; 95% CI = 3.3 to 8.0 taps), and progressed at a faster rate of 0.45 fewer taps per year (CAG by time interaction: p = 0.008; 95% CI = 0.12 to 0.78 taps). In addition, for each unit decrease in Total Functional Capacity (TFC) within individuals, the number of taps decreased by 6.3 (95% CI = 5.4 to 7.1, p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: Hand tapping is a simple, robust, and reliable marker of disease progression. As such, this simple motor task could be a useful tool by which to assess disease progression as well therapies designed to slow it down.

Details

Authors
  • Lucy M Collins
  • Stanley E Lazic
  • Roger A Barker
Organisations
External organisations
  • University of Cambridge
Research areas and keywords

Keywords

  • Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Cohort Studies, Disease Progression, Female, Hand, Humans, Huntington Disease, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Skills, Movement, Retrospective Studies, Young Adult, Journal Article, Randomized Controlled Trial, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Article number35
JournalBMC Neurology
Volume14
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Feb 24
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes