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The Impact of Paratonia on Fine and Gross Motor Function in Older Adults With Mild and Moderate Dementia

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Dementia is associated with impairment in gait, balance, and fine motor function. Paratonia, a form of hypertonia, is often present in severe dementia. However, little is known about muscle tone in early dementia, and the eventual relation between muscle tone abnormalities and changes in fine and gross motor function.


Three groups of participants were included in the study: healthy controls (n=60), participants with mild dementia (MiD) (n=31), and participants with moderate dementia (n=31). Measurements of fine motricity (Purdue pegboard test), balance and gait (Dynaport Hybrid), the presence of paratonia (PAI), and muscle tone measurements (MyotonPRO) were performed.


Paratonia was present in 42% of participants with MiD and in 58% of participants with moderate dementia. Participants with paratonia had lower Purdue Pegboard scores (P<0.001), lower balance coordination in semitandem stance (P<0.001), lower walking speed at a fast pace (P=0.001), and lower step regularity at normal (P=0.025) and fast (P<0.001) pace.


Paratonia is already present in participants with MiD and is associated with a decline in both fine and gross motor performance. Early detection of paratonia might be helpful to detect persons at higher risk of motor deterioration and falls.
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Keywords: balance; dementia; fine motor function; gait; muscle tone; paratonia

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, Ghent University 2: Department of Geriatrics, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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