Kinematic and kinetic assessment of upper limb movements in patients with writer's cramp

Mehdi Delrobaei, Fariborz Rahimi, Mallory E. Jackman, S. Farokh Atashzar, Mahya Shahbazi, Rajni Patel, Mandar Jog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The assessment and treatment of writer's cramp is complicated due to the variations in the forces and angles of involved joints. Additionally, in some cases compensatory movements for cramp relief further complicates assessment. Currently these variables are subjectively measured with clinical scales and visual assessments. This subjectivity makes it difficult to successfully administer interventions such as Botulinum toxin injection or orthotics resulting in poor efficacy and significant side effects. Method: A multi-sensor system was used to record finger and wrist forces along with deviation angles at the wrist, elbow and shoulder while 9 patients with writer's cramp performed a series of standardized tasks on surfaces inclined at different angles. Clinical, kinetic, and kinematic information regarding cramping was collected. Results: First, four tasks appeared to best predict cramp occurrence. Second, unique biomechanical profiles emerged for patients regarding force, angles and cramp severity. Third, cluster analyses using these features showed a clear separation of patients into two severity classes. Finally, a relationship between severity and kinetic-kinematic information suggested that primary cramping versus compensatory movements could be potentially inferred. Conclusions: The results demonstrate that using a set of standardized tasks and objective measures, individual profiles for arm movements and applied forces associated with writer's cramp can be generated. The clinician can then accurately target the biomechanics specifically, whether it is with injection or other rehabilitative measures, fulfilling an important unmet need in the treatment of writer's cramp.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 18 2016


  • Abnormal motor movements
  • Focal hand dystonia
  • Kinematic assessment
  • Kinetic assessment
  • Writer's cramp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics


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