• Institutes: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, University of California, University College London,  Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Emory University, NIH
  • Authors: David A. Peterson, Gwen C. Littlewort, Marian S. Bartlett, Antonella Macerollo, Joel S. Perlmutter, H.A. Jinnah, Mark Hallett, Terrence J. Sejnowski

Objective: To compare clinical rating scales of blepharospasm severity with involuntary eye closures measured automatically from patient videos with contemporary facial expression software.

Methods: We evaluated video recordings of a standardized clinical examination from 50 patients with blepharospasm in the Dystonia Coalition’s Natural History and Biorepository study. Eye closures were measured on a frame-by-frame basis with software known as the Computer Expression Recognition Toolbox (CERT). The proportion of eye closure time was compared with 3 commonly used clinical rating scales: the Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale, Global Dystonia Rating Scale, and Jankovic Rating Scale.

Results: CERT was reliably able to find the face, and its eye closure measure was correlated with all of the clinical severity ratings (Spearman r 5 0.56, 0.52, and 0.56 for the Burke-FahnMarsden Dystonia Rating Scale, Global Dystonia Rating Scale, and Jankovic Rating Scale, respectively, all p , 0.0001).

Conclusions: The results demonstrate that CERT has convergent validity with conventional clinical rating scales and can be used with video recordings to measure blepharospasm symptom severity automatically and objectively. Unlike EMG and kinematics, CERT requires only conventional video recordings and can therefore be more easily adopted for use in the clinic.