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Gait Posture. 2009 Nov;30(4):538-42. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2009.08.232. Epub 2009 Sep 11.

Early biomechanical markers of postural instability in Parkinson's disease.

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The University of Kansas, 1530 West 15th St, Rm 3138, Lawrence, KS 66045-7609, United States.


Current clinical assessments do not adequately detect the onset of postural instability in the early stages of Parkinson's disease (PD). The aim of this study was to identify biomechanical variables that are sensitive to the effects of early Parkinson's disease on the ability to recovery from a balance disturbance. Ten adults diagnosed with idiopathic PD and no clinically detectable postural instability, and ten healthy age-range matched controls (HC) completed the study. The first step in the response to a backwards waist pull was quantified in terms of strategy, temporal, kinematic, kinetic, and center of pressure (COP) variables. People with PD, compared to HC, tended to be less consistent in the choice of stepping limb, utilized more time for weight shift, used a modified ankle joint motion prior to liftoff, and the COP was further posterior at landing. The study results demonstrate that PD changes the response to a balance disturbance which can be quantified using biomechanical variables even before the presence of clinically detectable postural instability. Further studies are required to determine if these variables are sensitive and specific to postural instability.

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