Research Article| Volume 163, ISSUE 1, P61-69, February 01, 1999

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Influence of visual and proprioceptive afferences on upper limb ataxia in patients with multiple sclerosis


      Our objective was to investigate how cooling of the arm and vision influence pointing movements in healthy subjects and patients with cerebellar limb ataxia due to clinically proven multiple sclerosis. An infrared video motion analysis system was used to record the unrestricted, horizontal pointing movements toward a target under three different conditions involving a moving, stationary, or imaginary target; a visual, or acoustic trigger; and vision or memory guidance. All three tasks were performed before and after cooling the arm in ice water. Patients had more hypermetric and slower pointing movements than controls under all tested conditions. Patients also had significantly larger three-dimensional finger sway paths during the postural phase and larger movement angles of the wrist joint. Memory-guided movements were the most hypermetric recorded in both groups. Cooling of the limb had no effect on amplitude or peak velocity of the pointing movement in either group under all tested conditions, but significantly reduced the three-dimensional finger sway path during the postural phase in patients with limb ataxia. Cooling-induced reduction of the finger sway was largest in those patients with the largest finger sway before cooling. In conclusion, the cooling-induced reduction of the proprioceptive afferent inflow, most probably of group I spindle afferents, reduces postural tremor of patients with cerebellar dysfunction.


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