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Gait Posture. 2014 Jan;39(1):65-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2013.05.029. Epub 2013 Jul 3.

Increasing speed to improve arm movement and standing postural control in Parkinson's disease patients when catching virtual moving balls.

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Department of Occupational Therapy, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan; Department of Rehabilitation, Tainan Hospital, Department of Health, Executive Yuan, Tainan, Taiwan.


Research has shown that moving targets help Parkinson's disease (PD) patients improve their arm movement while sitting. We examined whether increasing the speed of a moving ball would also improve standing postural control in PD patients during a virtual reality (VR) ball-catching task. Twenty-one PD patients and 21 controls bilaterally reached to catch slow-moving and then fast-moving virtual balls while standing. A projection-based VR system connected to a motion-tracking system and a force platform was used. Dependent measures included the kinematics of arm movement (movement time, peak velocity), duration of anticipatory postural adjustments (APA), and center of pressure (COP) movement (movement time, maximum amplitude, and average velocity). When catching a fast ball, both PD and control groups made arm movements with shorter movement time and higher peak velocity, longer APA, as well as COP movements with shorter movement time and smaller amplitude than when catching a slow ball. The change in performance from slow- to fast-ball conditions was not different between the PD and control groups. The results suggest that raising the speed of virtual moving targets should increase the speed of arm and COP movements for PD patients. Therapists, however, should also be aware that a fast virtual moving target causes the patient to confine the COP excursion to a smaller amplitude. Future research should examine the effect of other task parameters (e.g., target distance, direction) on COP movement and examine the long-term effect of VR training.


Parkinson disease; Rehabilitation; Task performance and analysis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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