MS Patients’ Handwriting Ability Correlates with Movement, Sensory and Cognitive Impairment, Study Shows

MS Patients’ Handwriting Ability Correlates with Movement, Sensory and Cognitive Impairment, Study Shows

A deterioration in multiple sclerosis patients’ handwriting aligns with drops in their movement, sensory and cognitive skills, a study reports.

MS includes loss of hand dexterity and finger movement control. This affects a patient’s capacity to manipulate objects and coordinate hand movement, skills needed in handwriting.

“Handwriting is an important and high-value activity, which requires complex sensorimotor, perceptual and cognitive skills,” the researchers wrote. “If one of these abilities declines, as frequently occurs in neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and MS, handwriting could deteriorate.” The result is frustration and handwriting that doesn’t look like the patient’s.

Previous studies have shown that MS patients had less handwriting rhythm and control than healthy people.

This time researchers decided to compare the handwriting movements of both MS patients and healthy volunteers.

Their study, which appeared in journal Scientific Reports, is titled “The kinematics of handwriting movements as expression of cognitive and sensorimotor impairments in people with multiple sclerosis.

The research involved 19 MS patients and 22 healthy age-matched controls. The team asked participants to write a specific sentence on a digitizing tablet.

They discovered that the way MS patients wrote was much different than those of the controls. The patients took a lot longer to write each word and to achieve spacing between words. This led to them taking a much longer time overall to write a sentence than healthy people.

In addition, analysis of handwriting strokes showed that MS patients’ writing wasn’t as smooth as that of healthy people.

Researchers also found a correlation between patients’ movement abilities and cognitive status on the one hand and their handwriting ability on the other.

The team said it believed “these findings might be very useful when planning rehabilitative task-oriented interventions focused on handwriting abilities.”

In fact, rehabilitation specialists should consider evaluating “both the motor [movement] and the cognitive status of PwMS [patients with MS] in order to tailor the intervention.”

 

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11 comments

    • Chris says:

      Occupational therapy has helped a good deal with my handwriting abilities. I would definitely recommend asking your neurologist
      about an occupational therapy recommendation.

  1. Margo Schappell says:

    My handwriting is also very bad. My Tremors make it almost impossible. I have trouble typing also. Do you have any suggestions about the type of computer or Mouse that could be used to compensate? Thanks for your time

  2. Rob Teer says:

    Oddly, I’ve always been told, and still am told that I have “BEAUTIFUL” handwriting! And I’m a GUY, you know! I don’t wanna have BEAUTIFUL HANDWRITING! So I try NOT TO WRITE ANYTHING!

  3. Joy Bowers says:

    My son was diagnosed with RR/MS at age 17 years & will be 54 on JAN 20. He is left handed & finds it difficult to write legibly since he has very little feeling in his fingers & some spasticity in both hands. Can no longer play his guitar. Still Praying for a miracle !!

  4. Catherine says:

    My handwriting goes down hill when I am having a relapse or flare up of symptoms. However when that’s not happening, I practice my handwriting as neat handwriting is important to me and it’s not too bad. As for my typing, I am extremely thankful for the spell-check function on my PC.

  5. Chris says:

    Everyone, most occupational therapists can help with handwriting. This includes finding a writing instrument (pen or pencil) that is easier or more comfortable and functional to use as well as ways to modify the writing instrument with special grips, putties, or tapes that allow for better comfort while writing. This along with special hand strengthening exercises helped me greatly. I definitely recommend talking to your neurologist about the benefits that occupational therapy can yield to MS patients needing help honing their fine motor skills, handwriting included.

  6. Linda A says:

    My hand writing is deteriorating now. But in 1994 (yes!) when diagnosed I couldn’t write at all. An early childhood teacher recommended playing the piano as therapy. (used for young children with poor fine motor skills.) I did end up playing better than before. At first even a scale was beyond me. Now, 28 years later I need to return to the piano. I had progressed to calligraphy in 1996. I did get back the use of my hands and writing.

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