The BRAIN test: a keyboard-tapping test to assess disability and clinical features of multiple sclerosis.
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BACKGROUND: The BRadykinesia Akinesia INcordination (BRAIN) test is an online keyboard-tapping test previously validated as a sensitive tool for detecting signs of Parkinson's disease. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether the BRAIN test can measure disability in MS and identify the presence of pyramidal or cerebellar dysfunction. METHODS: Kinesia scores (KS, number of key taps in 30 s), akinesia times (AT, mean dwell time on each key) and incoordination scores (IS, variance of travelling time between keys) were calculated in 39 MS patients. These were correlated against the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores, pyramidal and cerebellar functional system scores and 9-hole peg test scores. RESULTS: EDSS correlated with KS (r = - 0.594, p < 0.001), AT (r = 0.464, p = 0.003) and IS (r = 0.423, p = 0.007). 9-HPT scores strongly correlated with KS (r = 0.926, p < 0.001). Pyramidal scores correlated with KS (r = - 0.517, p < 0.001). Cerebellar scores correlated with KS (r = - 0.665, p < 0.001), AT (r = 0.567, p < 0.001) and IS (r = 0.546, p = 0.007). Receiver operating characteristic curves demonstrate that KS can distinguish between the presence or absence of pyramidal and cerebellar dysfunction with area under curve 0.840 (p < 0.001) and 0.829 (p < 0.001), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The BRAIN test can remotely measure disability in MS. Specific scores differ according to the presence and severity of pyramidal or extrapyramidal dysfunction. It demonstrates huge potential in monitoring disease progression in clinical trials.