University of Tasmania
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Could assessment of upper limb motor function help identify cognitive impairment?

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conference contribution
posted on 2023-08-17, 04:40 authored by Kaylee RuddKaylee Rudd


Dementia is one of the greatest health challenges of this century. An intervention early in the disease course of dementia may offer a chance to delay or stop the neurodegenerative process. Motor function is a potential biomarker for early stages of dementia. Evidence shows a strong association between walking measures and cognition, but detailed gait analysis is not readily available. There is emerging evidence suggesting associations between hand motor function and cognition. As tests can be performed seated using standard computer equipment, hand function measures may provide a viable population-level motor biomarker in dementia investigations. The objective of this study was to examine the association between hand motor function and cognitive diagnosis.  



Participants were recruited from the ISLAND Cognition Clinic. Cognitive status of participants (dementia, Mild Cognitive Impairment, or cognitively normal) was determined based on consensus diagnosis using comprehensive clinical and neuropsychological examinations. Participants were video-recorded while performing self-paced, and fast-paced finger-tapping (FT) tasks. FT frequencies (number of taps/minute) were extracted from the videos using computer vision algorithms. FT reserve, the ability to increase FT frequency when necessary, was calculated as fast-paced FT frequency - self-paced FT frequency. We investigated correlations between cognitive diagnosis and FT measures.  



When FT measures were adjusted for age, sex and education years, there was a trend for lower self- and fast-paced FT frequencies with greater cognitive impairment but did not reach statistical significance. FT reserve was not associated with cognitive diagnosis.  



The results are inconclusive, requiring further investigations in a larger sample size and potentially involving different hand motor functions. This study is among the first to analyse the association between FT measures and cognitive diagnosis using a technology-based motor test. The design and methods used show potential new ways to examine motor function and cognition.



Wicking Dementia Research Education Centre

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Alzheimer's association international conference (AAIC) 2023

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