[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Freezing of gait (FOG) is an episodic gait disturbance that is commonly seen in Parkinson's disease (PD). To date, treatment efficacy is limited. We tested the hypothesis that an intervention that utilizes motor learning provided through intensive cueing can alleviate this symptom. Fifteen subjects with PD suffering from FOG participated in a 6 week progressive motor learning program (three training sessions per week-open trial). A training session included FOG-provoking situations (e.g., turns). Prior to each presumed FOG provocation (e.g., just before a turn), rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS) was elicited and the subject was trained to walk rhythmically, coordinate left-right stepping and to increase step size, utilizing the RAS cueing. Net training duration increased from week to week and secondary cognitive tasks while walking were added to increase FOG propensity. FOG symptom burden was assessed before, immediately, and 4 weeks after the training period. The mean number of FOG episodes (±SEM) per 10 m of walking in a standardized gait assessment decreased from 0.52 ± 0.29 in the pre-testing to 0.15 ± 0.04 in the post-testing (p < 0.05). The duration of FOG episodes decreased from 4.3 ± 2.1 to 2.6 ± 0.6 s (p < 0.05). Additional measures (e.g., FOG questionnaire, gait speed) varied in their responsiveness to the treatment. These effects were retained 4 weeks after the training. The results of this open label study support the possibility that a motor learning-based intervention is apparently effective in reducing FOG burden, suggesting that RAS can deliver 'anti-FOG' training.
Journal of Neurology 04/2014; · 3.58 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mechanisms regulating the bilateral coordination of gait in humans are largely unknown. Our objective was to study how bilateral coordination changes as a result of gait speed modifications during over ground walking. 15 young adults wore force sensitive insoles that measured vertical forces used to determine the timing of the gait cycle events under three walking conditions (i.e., usual-walking, fast and slow). Ground reaction force impact (GRFI) associated with heel-strikes was also quantified, representing the potential contribution of sensory feedback to the regulation of gait. Gait asymmetry (GA) was quantified based on the differences between right and left swing times and the bilateral coordination of gait was assessed using the phase coordination index (PCI), a metric that quantifies the consistency and accuracy of the anti-phase stepping pattern. GA was preserved in the three different gait speeds. PCI was higher (reduced coordination) in the slow gait condition, compared to usual-walking (3.51% vs. 2.47%, respectively, p=0.002), but was not significantly affected in the fast condition. GRFI values were lower in the slow walking as compared to usual-walking and higher in the fast walking condition (p<0.001). Stepwise regression revealed that slow gait related changes in PCI were not associated with the slow gait related changes in GRFI. The present findings suggest that left-right anti-phase stepping is similar in normal and fast walking, but altered during slow walking. This behavior might reflect a relative increase in attention resources required to regulate a slow gait speed, consistent with the possibility that cortical function and supraspinal input influences the bilateral coordination of gait.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Freezing of gait is a debilitating and common gait disturbance observed in individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD). Although the underlying mechanisms of freezing remain unclear, bilateral coordination of steps, measured as a phase coordination index, has been suggested to be related to freezing. Phase coordination index has not, however, been measured during tasks associated with freezing such as turning and backward walking. Understanding how bilateral coordination changes during tasks associated with freezing may improve our understanding of the causes of freezing. METHODS: Twelve individuals with PD who freeze (freezers), 19 individuals with PD who do not freeze (non-freezers), and 10 healthy, age-matched older adults participated. General motor disease severity and freezing severity were assessed. Phase coordination index was calculated for all subjects during forward walking, backward walking, continuous turning in small radius circles, and turning in large radius circles. RESULTS: Freezers and non-freezers had similar disease duration and general motor severity. Stepping coordination (measured as phase coordination index) was significantly worse in freezers compared to non-freezers and controls. Turning and backward walking, tasks related to freezing, resulted in worse coordination with respect to forward walking. Coordination was associated with severity of freezing scores such that worse coordination was correlated with more severe freezing. CONCLUSIONS: These results provide evidence that stepping coordination is related to freezing in people with PD. Identifying variables associated with freezing may provide insights into factors underlying this symptom, and may inform rehabilitative interventions to reduce its occurrence in PD.
Parkinsonism & Related Disorders 06/2012; · 3.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Falling is a major clinical problem; especially, in elderly population as it often leads to fractures, immobilization, poor quality of life and life-span reduction. Given the growing body of evidences on the physiopathology of balance disorders in humans, in recent years the approach of research on falls has completely changed and new instruments and new definitions have been formulated. Among them, the definition of "idiopathic faller" (i.e. no overt cause for falling in a given subject) represented a milestone in building the "science of falling". This review deals with the new determinants of the neurobiology of falling: (1) the role of motor impairment and particularly of those "mild parkinsonian signs" frequently detectable in elderly subjects, (2) the role of executive and attentive resources when coping with obstacles, (3) the role of vascular lesions in "highest level gait disorder" (a condition tightly connected with senile gait, cautious gait and frailty), (4) the role of the failure of automaticity or inter-limbs coordination/symmetry during walking and such approach would definitely help the development of screening instrument for subjects at risk (still lacking in present days). This translational approach will lead to the development of specific therapeutic interventions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Freezing of gait (FoG) is a common gait deficit in advanced Parkinson's disease (PD). FoG events are associated with falls, interfere with daily life activities and impair quality of life. FoG is often resistant to pharmacologic treatment; therefore effective non-pharmacologic assistance is needed. We propose a wearable assistant, composed of a smartphone and wearable accelerometers, for online detection of FoG. The system is based on machine learning techniques for automatic detection of FoG episodes. When FoG is detected, the assistant provides rhythmic auditory cueing or vibrotactile feedback that stimulates the patient to resume walking. We tested our solution on more than 8h of recorded lab data from PD patients that experience FoG in daily life. We characterize the system performance on user-dependent and user-independent experiments, with respect to different machine learning algorithms, sensor placement and preprocessing window size. The final system was able to detect FoG events with an average sensitivity and specificity of more than 95%, and mean detection latency of 0.34s in user-dependent settings.
6th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare, San Diego, California, USA; 05/2012
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several gait impairments have been associated with freezing of gait (FOG) in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). These include deteriorations in rhythm control, gait symmetry, bilateral coordination of gait, dynamic postural control and step scaling. We suggest that these seemingly independent gait features may have mutual interactions which, during certain circumstances, jointly drive the predisposed locomotion system into a FOG episode. This new theoretical framework is illustrated by the evaluation of the potential relationships between the so-called "sequence effect", that is, impairments in step scaling, and gait asymmetry just prior to FOG. We further discuss what factors influence gait control to maintain functional gait. "Triggers", for example, such as attention shifts or trajectory transitions, may precede FOG. We propose distinct categories of interventions and describe examples of existing work that support this idea: (a) interventions which aim to maintain a good level of locomotion control especially with respect to aspects related to FOG; (b) those that aim at avoiding FOG "triggers"; and (c) those that merely aim to escape from FOG once it occurs. The proposed theoretical framework sets the stage for testable hypotheses regarding the mechanisms that lead to FOG and may also lead to new treatment ideas.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Falls are widely recognized as a social problem due to the related economic burden on public health budgets. Following the growing body of evidences on the physiopathology of postural control in humans, many factors leading to falls are already well established in the literature. Given the high prevalence of falls among elderly people, the present review focuses on parkinsonism and those "mild parkinsonian signs" frequently presented by elderly subjects. Parkinsonism is a good paradigm for the understanding of the pathophysiology of falling. Specifically, parkinsonian patients display specific features related to falls, such as axial motor symptoms, the impairment of executive functions and of the interplay between motion and cognition, as revealed by the disruption of automaticity.
Clinical cases in mineral and bone metabolism : the official journal of the Italian Society of Osteoporosis, Mineral Metabolism, and Skeletal Diseases. 01/2012; 9(1):17-20.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Timed Up and Go (TUG) test is a widely used measure of mobility and fall risk among older adults that is typically scored using a stopwatch. We tested the hypothesis that a body-fixed accelerometer can enhance the ability of the TUG to identify community-living older adults with a relatively high fall risk of unknown origin. Twenty-three community-living elderly fallers (76.0 ± 3.9 years) and 18 healthy controls (68.3 ± 9.1 years) performed the TUG while wearing a 3D-accelerometer on the lower back. Acceleration-derived parameters included Sit-to-Stand and Stand-to-Sit times, amplitude range (Range), and slopes (Jerk). Average step duration, number of steps, average step length, gait speed, acceleration-median, and standard-deviation were also calculated. While the stopwatch-based TUG duration was not significantly different between the groups, acceleration-derived TUG duration was significantly higher (p = 0.007) among the fallers. Fallers generally exhibited lower Range and Jerk (p < 0.01). While TUG stopwatch duration successfully identified 63% of the subjects, an accelerometer-derived three-measure-combination correctly classified 87% of the subjects. Accelerometer-derived measures were generally not correlated with TUG duration. These findings demonstrate that fallers have difficulty with specific TUG aspects that can be quantified using an accelerometer. Without compromising simplicity of testing, an accelerometer can apparently be combined with TUG duration to provide complementary, objective measures that allow for a more complete, sensitive TUG-based fall risk assessment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The interplay between gait and specific cognitive faculties, in particular executive function (EF) and dual tasking abilities, has been described in healthy adults and in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). There is, however, little direct evidence on the relationship between cognitive function, gait, and fall risk in PD, especially in the "ON" state (i.e., under the influence of the anti-parkinsonian medications). To address this issue, we evaluated cognitive function and gait under usual walking and dual-task conditions in 30 patients with PD in the ON state of the medication cycle. Subjects were classified as fallers or non-fallers based on their history. A computerized battery quantified cognitive function. Gait was assessed under three conditions: (1) Usual walking, (2) While subtracting serial 3 s, and (3) While subtracting serial 7 s. The EF and attention scores were lower in the fallers, compared to non-fallers (P ≤ 0.037), but general measures of cognition, e.g., memory, (P = 0.341) were not. Gait speed, variability, and the bilateral coordination of gait were worse in the fallers in all conditions. The DT effects on gait variability and bilateral coordination were larger in the fallers (P = 0.044, P = 0.061, respectively). These results suggest that patients with PD who have a high risk of falling are more sensitive to DT effects, perhaps as a result of relatively poor EF. These cognitive and motor deficits may increase the likelihood of loss of balance during everyday attention-demanding tasks among patients with PD.
Experimental Brain Research 01/2011; 210(3-4):529-38. · 2.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Multiple aspects of gait are typically impaired post-stroke. Asymmetric gait is common as a consequence of unilateral brain lesions. The relationship between the resulting asymmetric gait and impairments in the ability to properly coordinate the reciprocal stepping activation of the legs is not clear. The objective of this exploratory study is to quantify the effects of hemiparesis on two putatively independent aspects of the bilateral coordination of gait to gain insight into mechanisms and their relationship and to assess their potential as clinical markers.
Twelve ambulatory stroke patients and age-matched healthy adults wore a tri-axial piezo-resistive accelerometer and walked back and forth along a straight path in a hall at a comfortable walking speed during 2 minutes. Gait speed, gait asymmetry (GA), and aspects of the bilateral coordination of gait (BCG) were determined. Bilateral coordination measures included the left-right stepping phase for each stride φi, consistency in the phase generation φ_CV, accuracy in the phase generation φ_ABS, and Phase Coordination Index (PCI), a combination of accuracy and consistency of the phase generation.
Group differences (p < 0.001) were observed for gait speed (1.1 ± 0.1 versus 1.7 ± 0.1 m/sec for patients and controls, respectively), GA (26.3 ± 5.6 versus 5.5 ± 1.2, correspondingly) and PCI (19.5 ± 2.3 versus 6.2 ± 1.0, correspondingly). A significant correlation between GA and PCI was seen in the stroke patients (r = 0.94; p < 0.001), but not in the controls.
In ambulatory post-stroke patients, two gait coordination properties, GA and PCI, are markedly impaired. Although these features are not related to each other in healthy controls, they are strongly related in stroke patients, which is a novel finding. A measurement approach based on body-fixed sensors apparently may provide sensitive markers that can be used for clinical assessment and for enhancing rehabilitation targeting in post-stroke patients.
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 01/2011; 8:23. · 2.57 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To develop an automated and objective method to assess mobility in Parkinson disease (PD) patients in daily-life settings and to investigate whether accelerometer-derived measures discriminate between PD and healthy controls as they walk and simulate activities of daily living (ADL).
Healthy older adults (17) and patients with PD (22) wore a triaxial accelerometer on their lower back during short walks (validation study) and during a walk around the medical center to simulate daily activities (ADL simulation). The variability (consistency and rhythmicity) of stepping was assessed. The patients completed the walks before and after taking their anti-Parkinsonian medications. Frequency-based acceleration measures included dominant frequency, amplitude (strength of signal frequency), width (frequency dispersion), and slope (a combination reflecting amplitude and width) of the main frequency of the power spectral density in the 0.5- to 3.0-Hz band. A subset of the Unified Parkinson-Disease Rating Scale provided a clinical measure of gait impairment (UPDRS-Gait5). A PD patient and control wore the sensors for 3 days at home.
The width was larger, and the amplitude and slope were smaller in the PD patients compared to the controls in the validation study and ADL simulation (P < .02). The width decreased, and the amplitude and slope increased when patients took anti-Parkinsonian medications (P < .007). Significant correlations were observed between acceleration-derived measures and UPDRS-Gait5. The data obtained at home was similar to the clinic data.
Frequency-derived measures are valid and sensitive estimates of stride-to-stride variability that can be used to assess the quality and consistency of walking in patients with PD in real-life settings.
Neurorehabilitation and neural repair 01/2011; 25(9):810-8. · 4.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies have demonstrated that cognitive loading aggravates the gait impairments that are typically seen in Parkinson's disease (PD). To better understand the relationship between cognition and gait in PD, we evaluated 30 subjects with PD who suffer from motor response fluctuations. The subjects were clinically and cognitively assessed using standard clinical (e.g., Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale) and cognitive tests while in the "ON" period of the medication cycle. In addition, the subjects wore force-sensitive insoles to quantify the timing of the gait cycles during 80-m walks at a self-selected, comfortable pace during three randomly presented gait conditions: (1) usual-walking, (2) dual tasking (DT), performing serial 3 subtractions (DT_S3), and (3) DT_S7. Stride length, gait speed, gait variability and bilateral coordination of gait were affected by DT, compared to the usual-walking (P < 0.001) as was gait asymmetry (P = 0.024). Stepwise regression analyses showed that a subset of the cognitive performance scores accounted for the changes seen in the gait parameters during DT, e.g., set shifting capabilities as expressed by the Trial Making Test Scores (P < 0.001). Affect (e.g., anxiety) was not associated with DT-related gait changes. For most gait features, DT had a large impact on the DT_S3 condition with only minimal additional effect in the DT_S7 condition. These results demonstrate that the complex cognitive-motor interplay in the control of gait in patients with PD who suffer from motor response fluctuations has a profound and marked effect during DT conditions on gait variability, asymmetry and bilateral coordination, even in the "ON" state when patients are likely to be most active, mobile and vulnerable to the negative effects of dual tasking.
Experimental Brain Research 11/2010; 208(2):169-79. · 2.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Freezing of gait (FOG) is one of the most disabling symptoms that affect patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Although the pathophysiology underlying FOG largely remains an enigma, several lines of evidence suggest that the autonomic nervous system might be involved. To this end, we tested the hypothesis that heart rate (HR) increases during FOG and, further, that HR increases just before FOG. To evaluate these hypotheses, 15 healthy older adults, 10 patients with PD who experienced FOG, and 10 patients who did not were studied. Patients with PD were tested during their "off" medication state. HR and HR variability were measured as subjects carried out tasks that frequently provoke FOG; 120 FOG episodes were evaluated. During FOG, HR increased (P = 0.001) by an average of 1.8 bpm, compared with HR measured before the beginning of FOG. HR also increased just before FOG, by 1 bpm (P < 0.0001). In contrast, during sudden stops and 180° turns, HR decreased by almost 2 bpm (P < 0.0001). HR variability was not associated with FOG. To our knowledge, these findings are the first to document the association of FOG to autonomic system activation, as manifested by HR dynamics. One explanation is that the changes in HR before and during FOG may be a sympathetic response that, secondary to limbic activation, contributes to the development of freezing. Although further studies are needed to evaluate these associations, the current results provide experimental evidence linking impaired motor blockades to autonomic nervous system function among patients with PD.
Movement Disorders 10/2010; 25(14):2346-54. · 5.63 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this paper, we present a wearable assistant for Parkinson's disease (PD) patients with the freezing of gait (FOG) symptom. This wearable system uses on-body acceleration sensors to measure the patients' movements. It automatically detects FOG by analyzing frequency components inherent in these movements. When FOG is detected, the assistant provides a rhythmic auditory signal that stimulates the patient to resume walking. Ten PD patients tested the system while performing several walking tasks in the laboratory. More than 8 h of data were recorded. Eight patients experienced FOG during the study, and 237 FOG events were identified by professional physiotherapists in a post hoc video analysis. Our wearable assistant was able to provide online assistive feedback for PD patients when they experienced FOG. The system detected FOG events online with a sensitivity of 73.1% and a specificity of 81.6%. The majority of patients indicated that the context-aware automatic cueing was beneficial to them. Finally, we characterize the system performance with respect to the walking style, the sensor placement, and the dominant algorithm parameters.
IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine 04/2010; · 1.98 Impact Factor