Handwriting as a possible marker of progression of cognitive impairment in dementia? A pilot study

S. Bortolotto 1, E. Ara 2, M. Devita 1, G. Bruno 2, A. Girardi 1, E. Manzato 1, G. Sergi 1, A. Coin 1

1 Geriatrics Division, Department of Medicine – DIMED, University of Padua, Italy; 2 Department of General Psychology, University of Padua, Italy

Background & objectives. An increasing number of studies have investigated the role of handwriting in describing different stages of dementia evolution. It has been showed that handwriting allows to distinguish among mild cognitive impairment (MCI), early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and its latest stages. However, to our knowledge there are no rigorous studies on this issue, and there is no scientifically based application of handwriting analysis in clinical practice. The aim of this qualitative pilot study is to provide a description of handwriting peculiarities in the different stages of dementia, from MCI to AD, and to suggest that graphological analysis may be a clinical support in diagnosing dementia.

Methods. Four patients were evaluated every six months and assessed with MMSE, the Clock test, and a complete neurological evaluation. The “Morettian graphemic system” was then used to analyze handwriting.

Results. Handwriting changes over time might reflect variations not only in global cognitive functioning itself, but also in different stages of the disease. Further and more methodologically rigorous investigations are required to explore handwriting as a clinical marker of dementia evolution.

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