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Parkinsonian hand or clinician’s eye? Finger tap Bradykinesia interrater reliability for 21 movement disorder experts

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 17:30 authored by Williams, S, Wong, D, Jane AltyJane Alty, Relton, SD

Background: Bradykinesia is considered the fundamental motor feature of Parkinson’s disease (PD). It is central to diagnosis, monitoring, and research outcomes. However, as a clinical sign determined purely by visual judgement, the reliability of humans to detect and measure bradykinesia remains unclear.

Objective: To establish interrater reliability for expert neurologists assessing bradykinesia during the finger tapping test, without cues from additional examination or history.

Methods: 21 movement disorder neurologists rated finger tapping bradykinesia, by Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS) and Modified Bradykinesia Rating Scale (MBRS), in 133 videos of hands: 73 from 39 people with idiopathic PD, 60 from 30 healthy controls. Each neurologist rated 30 randomly-selected videos. 19 neurologists were also asked to judge whether the hand was PD or control. We calculated intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) for absolute agreement and consistency of MDS-UPDRS ratings, using standard linear and cumulative linked mixed models.

Results: There was only moderate agreement for finger tapping MDS-UPDRS between neurologists, ICC 0.53 (standard linear model) and 0.65 (cumulative linked mixed model). Among control videos, 53% were rated >  0 by MDS-UPDRS, and 24% were rated as bradykinesia by MBRS subscore combination. Neurologists correctly identified PD/control status in 70% of videos, without strictly following bradykinesia presence/absence.

Conclusion: Even experts show considerable disagreement about the level of bradykinesia on finger tapping, and frequently see bradykinesia in the hands of those without neurological disease. Bradykinesia is to some extent a phenomenon in the eye of the clinician rather than simply the hand of the person with PD.


Publication title

Journal of Parkinson's Disease






Wicking Dementia Research Education Centre


IOS Press

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Diagnosis of human diseases and conditions

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