Haptic Feedback Manipulation during Botulinum Toxin Injection Therapy for Focal Hand Dystonia Patients: A Possible New Assistive Strategy

Seyed Farokh Atashzar, Mahya Shahbazi, Christopher Ward, Olivia Samotus, Mehdi Delrobaei, Fariborz Rahimi, Jack Lee, Mallory Jackman, Mandar S. Jog, Rajni V. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abnormality of sensorimotor integration in the basal ganglia and cortex has been reported in the literature for patients with task-specific focal hand dystonia (FHD). In this study, we investigate the effect of manipulation of kinesthetic input in people living with writer's cramp disorder (a major form of FHD). For this purpose, severity of dystonia is studied for 11 participants while the symptoms of seven participants have been tracked during five sessions of assessment and Botulinum toxin injection (BoNT-A) therapy (one of the current suggested therapies for dystonia). BoNT-A therapy is delivered in the first and the third session. The goal is to analyze the effect of haptic manipulation as a potential assistive technique during BoNT-A therapy. The trial includes writing, hovering, and spiral/sinusoidal drawing subtasks. In each session, the subtasks are repeated twice when (a) a participant uses a normal pen, and (b) when the participant uses a robotics-Assisted system (supporting the pen) which provides a compliant virtual writing surface and manipulates the kinesthetic sensory input. The results show (p-value <0.001 using one-sample t-Tests) that reducing the writing surface rigidity significantly decreases the severity of dystonia and results in better control of grip pressure (an indicator of dystonic cramping). It is also shown that (p-value <0.001 based on paired-samples t-Test) using the proposed haptic manipulation strategy, it is possible to augment the effectiveness of BoNT-A therapy. The outcome of this study is then used in the design of an actuated pen as a writing-Assistance tool that can provide compliant haptic interaction during writing for FHD patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7547957
Pages (from-to)523-535
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Haptics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Focal hand dystonia
  • assistive haptic technologies
  • botulinum toxin injection therapy
  • haptic feedback manipulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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