A digital assessment system for evaluating kinetic tremor in essential tremor and Parkinson's disease

Po Chieh Lin, Kai Hsiang Chen, Bing-Shiang Yang*, Yu Jung Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Spiral drawing on papers is a common tremor evaluation tool for diagnosing patients with essential tremor (ET) or Parkinson's disease (PD). No standard drawing methods and parameters that use graphic tablets are yet available for objective evaluation. Methods: This study established a tremor assessment system for tremor severity by using graphic tablets. Twelve patients with ET and twelve patients with PD were tested to establish system algorithms, and six additional patients were tested with the developed system to evaluate its performance. The patients also performed spiral drawing with three guiding paradigms on a graphic tablet: traced along a given spiral (S1), performed freehand drawing (S2), and traced along a guiding point (S3). Three parameters were calculated to quantify tremor severity: the means of radial difference per radian (dr/dθ), the means of radial difference per second (dr/dt), and the area under curve (AUC) of the frequency spectrum of the velocity. Each patient's drawing was also evaluated using a visual rating scale (VRS) by experienced physicians. The interrater reliability was examined to identify the most consistent test paradigm. Results: The parameter dr/dθ and AUC correlated well with the VRS (R > 0.8) in S1, S2 and S3 tests. The S1 test presented the best interrater reliability (Weighted Kappa coefficient, k = 0.80) among three tests. The Weighted Kappa coefficients are 0.67 and 0.71 in S2 and S3 tests, respectively. Conclusions: We developed three different guiding paradigms for spiral drawing on a digital graphic tablet for clinical tests. Three parameters were calculated to represent the tremor severity in spiral drawing and used to quantify temporal and spatial characteristics of tremor, and provided good correlation with current clinical assessments. The test "traced along a given spiral" is recommended due to its good interrater reliability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalBMC Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 9 Mar 2018


  • Clinical assessment
  • Essential tremor
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Spiral drawing

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