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Brain. 2000 Oct;123 ( Pt 10):2077-90.

Stride length regulation in Parkinson's disease: the use of extrinsic, visual cues.

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Human Motor Control Laboratory, Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Auckland, New Zealand.


It has been well documented that marked improvements in the hypokinetic gait pattern of Parkinson's disease patients are possible with the use of appropriate visual cues. This project served to evaluate Parkinson's disease gait performance as well as residual processing capacity while using fixed or gait-regulated visual cues. Three-dimensional kinematic, kinetic and electromyographic gait analysis was carried out on 14 patients and 14 matched controls in baseline conditions and with two types of visual cues: taped step length (SL) markers and an individualized subject-mounted light device (SMLD). A probe reaction time paradigm was invoked to assess residual processing capacity. Ratings of perceived task load were also made using the NASA-Task Load Index. Stride length and gait velocity were reduced in patients in baseline conditions. Both of these parameters increased to control levels with the use of visual cues. These alterations were generally accompanied by modifications of lower limb kinematics and kinetics towards control subjects. Perceived task load was higher in all conditions and was further elevated by the use of the SMLD for both groups. Patients produced larger overall reaction times, although reaction time was not different between baseline and SL marker conditions. Reaction time was increased in both groups when using the SMLD. The overarching finding is that stride length can be regulated in Parkinson's disease using stationary visual cues without increased central processing capacity or perceived effort. This may occur via utilization of visual feedback, reducing the patients' reliance on kinaesthetic feedback for the regulation of movement amplitude.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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