Multifeature quantitative motor assessment of upper limb ataxia including drawing and reaching

Type of Publication:
Hermle, Dominik
Schubert, Robin
Barallon, Pascal
Ilg, Winfried
Schüle, Rebecca
Reilmann, Ralf
Synofzik, Matthis
Traschütz, Andreas
Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology

Abstract Objective Voluntary upper limb movements are an ecologically important yet insufficiently explored digital-motor outcome domain for trials in degenerative ataxia. We extended and validated the trial-ready quantitative motor assessment battery “Q-Motor” for upper limb movements with clinician-reported, patient-focused, and performance outcomes of ataxia. Methods Exploratory single-center cross-sectional assessment in 94 subjects (46 cross-genotype ataxia patients; 48 matched controls), comprising five tasks measured by force transducer and/or position field: Finger Tapping, diadochokinesia, grip-lift, and—as novel implementations—Spiral Drawing, and Target Reaching. Digital-motor measures were selected if they discriminated from controls (AUC >0.7) and correlated—with at least one strong correlation (rho ≥0.6)—to the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA), activities of daily living (FARS-ADL), and the Nine-Hole Peg Test (9HPT). Results Six movement features with 69 measures met selection criteria, including speed and variability in all tasks, stability in grip-lift, and efficiency in Target Reaching. The novel drawing/reaching tasks best captured impairment in dexterity (|rho9HPT| ≤0.81) and FARS-ADL upper limb items (|rhoADLul| ≤0.64), particularly by kinematic analysis of smoothness (SPARC). Target hit rate, a composite of speed and endpoint precision, almost perfectly discriminated ataxia and controls (AUC: 0.97). Selected measures in all tasks discriminated between mild, moderate, and severe impairment (SARA upper limb composite: 0–2/>2–4/>4–6) and correlated with severity in the trial-relevant mild ataxia stage (SARA ≤10, n = 20). Interpretation Q-Motor assessment captures multiple features of impaired upper limb movements in degenerative ataxia. Validation with key clinical outcome domains provides the basis for evaluation in longitudinal studies and clinical trial settings.