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Bradykinesia

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Updated May 22, 2014

Definition:

Bradykinesia refers to slowness of movement and is the most characteristic clinical feature of Parkinson's disease.

The slowness of movement is most clear when initiating and executing actions or activities that require several successive steps. These activities can include all kinds of activities of daily life like getting dressed, making a sandwich or getting to a doctor’s appointment and so forth. Tasks requiring fine motor control (buttoning, using utensils, for example) are particularly slow.

When your doctor tests for the presence of bradykinesia, he or she will ask you to perform rapid, repetitive, alternating movements of the hand (moving palms up and down, finger taps, hand grips, etc.) The slowness of movement can manifest in gestures, in speech, and even in eyeblink rates.

Your emotional state may also affect your bradykinesia. For example, even if you are going through a period of extreme immobility and somebody shouts “fire!” you may be able to get up and run fast. This is called ‘kinesia paradoxica.’ PD does not destroy the motor programs in your brain.

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