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Gait Posture. 2011 Mar;33(3):436-41. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2010.12.020. Epub 2011 Jan 21.

Levodopa effect on electromyographic activation patterns of tibialis anterior muscle during walking in Parkinson's disease.

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Institute of Neurology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.


Previous studies have reported that patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) show, in the "off medication" state, a reduced activation of tibialis anterior (TA) in the late swing-early stance phase of the gait cycle. In PD patients the pathophysiological picture may cause differences among the stride cycles. Our aims were to evaluate how frequently TA activity is reduced in the late swing-early stance phase and if there is a relationship between the TA pattern and the clinical picture. Thirty PD patients were studied 2 h after Levodopa administration ("on-med") and 12 h after Levodopa wash-out ("off-med"). They were evaluated by the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS III) and surface electromyography of TA and gastrocnemius medialis (GM). The root mean square (RMS) of the TA activity in late swing-early stance phase (RMS-A) was normalized as a percent of the RMS of the TA activity in late stance-early swing (RMS-B). RMS-A was reduced in 30% of patients in the "off-med" condition. Within these patients, the percentage of stride cycles with reduced RMS-A, ranged between 28% and 83%. After Levodopa intake, no stride cycle showed reduced RMS-A. Patients with reduced RMS-A had a lower UPDRS III total score in the "on-med" rather than in the "off-med" condition (p=0.02). Our data confirm and extend previous observations indicating that, in "off-med" the function of TA is impaired in those patients clinically more responsive to Levodopa. TA activation is reduced in a relatively high percent of gait cycles in the "off-med" state. Since the variability of TA activation disappears after Levodopa administration, this phenomenon could be the expression of an abnormal dopaminergic drive.

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