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Gait Initiation Impairment in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease and Freezing of Gait

Palmisano, Chiara; Beccaria, Laura; Haufe, Stefan; Volkmann, Jens; Pezzoli, Gianni; Isaias, Ioannis U.

Freezing of gait (FOG) is a sudden episodic inability to produce effective stepping despite the intention to walk. It typically occurs during gait initiation (GI) or modulation and may lead to falls. We studied the anticipatory postural adjustments (imbalance, unloading, and stepping phase) at GI in 23 patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and FOG (PDF), 20 patients with PD and no previous history of FOG (PDNF), and 23 healthy controls (HCs). Patients performed the task when off dopaminergic medications. The center of pressure (CoP) displacement and velocity during imbalance showed significant impairment in both PDNF and PDF, more prominent in the latter patients. Several measurements were specifically impaired in PDF patients, especially the CoP displacement along the anteroposterior axis during unloading. The pattern of segmental center of mass (SCoM) movements did not show differences between groups. The standing postural profile preceding GI did not correlate with outcome measurements. We have shown impaired motor programming at GI in Parkinsonian patients. The more prominent deterioration of unloading in PDF patients might suggest impaired processing and integration of somatosensory information subserving GI. The unaltered temporal movement sequencing of SCoM might indicate some compensatory cerebellar mechanisms triggering time-locked models of body mechanics in PD.
Published in: Bioengineering, 10.3390/bioengineering9110639, MDPI