Motor speed and accuracy are both affected in childhood dystonia. Thus, deriving a speed-accuracy function is an important metric for assessing motor impairments in dystonia. Previous work in dystonia studied the speed-accuracy trade-off during point-to-point tasks. To achieve a more relevant measurement of functional abilities in dystonia, the present study investigates upper-limb kinematics and electromyographic activity of 8 children with dystonia and 8 healthy children during a trajectory-constrained child-relevant task that emulates self-feeding with a spoon and requires continuous monitoring of accuracy. The speed-accuracy trade-off is examined by changing the spoon size to create different accuracy demands. Results demonstrate that the trajectory-constrained speed-accuracy relation is present in both groups, but it is altered in dystonia in terms of increased slope and offset toward longer movement times. Findings are consistent with the hypothesis of increased signal-dependent noise in dystonia, which may partially explain the slow and variable movements observed in dystonia.
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