Although previous studies have shown pointing errors and abnormal multijoint coordination in seated subjects with Parkinson's disease (PD) who cannot view their arm, the extent to which subjects with PD have problems using proprioception to coordinate equilibrium maintenance and goal-oriented task execution has not been adequately investigated. If a common motor program controls voluntary arm pointing movements and the accompanying postural adjustments, then impairments of proprioceptive integration in subjects with PD should have similar effects on pointing and body center of mass (CoM) control with eyes closed. Ten standing subjects with PD (OFF-medication) and 10 age-matched control (CTR) subjects pointed to a target with their eyes closed and open. Although pointing accuracy was not significantly different between groups, body CoM displacements were reduced in subjects with PD, but not in CTR, when eyes were closed. In addition, with eyes closed, PD subjects showed reduced temporal coupling between pointing and CoM velocity profiles and reduced spatial coupling between pointing and CoM endpoints. This poor coupling with eyes closed could be related to the PD subjects' increased jerkiness of CoM displacements. The different effects of eye closure between CTR and PD subjects on the CoM displacements, but not pointing accuracy, are consistent with separate motor programs for the pointing and postural components of this task. Furthermore, the decoupling between the two movement components in subjects with PD when they could not use vision, suggests that the basal ganglia are involved in the integration of proprioceptive information for posture-movement coordination. © 2009 IBRO.
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