Objective: Hypomimia is a common and early symptom of Parkinson's disease (PD), which reduces the ability of PD patients to manifest emotions. Currently, it is visually evaluated by the neurologist during neurological examinations for PD diagnosis, as described in task 3.2 of the Movement Disorder Society - Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS). Since such an evaluation is semi-quantitative and affected by inter-variability, this paper aims to measure the physiological parameters related to eye blink and facial expressions extracted from a vertical electro-oculogram (VEOG) and facial surface electromyography (fsEMG) to differentiate PD patients from healthy control subjects (HCs). Approach: The spontaneous eye blink rate-minute (sEBR), its maximum amplitude (BMP), and facial cutaneous muscle activity were measured in 24 PD patients and 24 HCs while the subjects looked at a visual-tester composed of three main parts: static vision, dynamic vision and reading silently. Specificity and sensitivity for each parameter were calculated. Main results: The VEOG and the fsEMG allowed the identification of some parameters related to eye blink and facial expressions (i.e. sEBR, BMP, frontal and peribuccal muscular activities), being able to distinguish between PD patients and HCs with high sensitivity and specificity. Significance: The demonstration that the combination of parameters related to eye blink and facial expressions can discriminate (with high accuracy) between PD patients versus HCs, thus resulting in a useful tool to support the neurologist in objective assessment of hypomimia for improving PD diagnosis.
- Biomedical Engineering
- Physiology (medical)