BACKGROUND: Falls are frequent in Parkinson's disease and ageing. Impairments in the cholinergic-mediated attentional supervision of gait may contribute to increased fall risk, especially when obstacles challenge gait. Interventions combining motor-cognitive approaches have been shown to improve motor performance, cognitive skills and falls number. Here, we hypothesized that an intervention simulating an attention-demanding walking condition could impact not only complex gait performance and fall risk but also short-latency afferent inhibition (SAI), as a marker of cholinergic activity.
METHODS: Thirty-nine participants at falls risk (24 Parkinson's disease subjects and 15 older adults) were recruited in a randomized controlled trial. Participants were assigned to treadmill training or treadmill training with non-immersive virtual reality intervention and trained 3 times a week for 6 weeks. SAI, a transcranial magnetic stimulation paradigm, was used to assess cholinergic activity. Gait kinematics was measured during usual walking and while negotiating physical obstacles. Transcranial magnetic stimulation and gait assessments were performed pre, post, and 6 months post intervention.
RESULTS: Treadmill training combined with non-immersive virtual reality induced an increase in inhibition of the SAI protocol on cortical excitability, improved obstacle negotiation performance and induced a reduction of the number of falls compared to treadmill training. Furthermore, the more SAI increased after training, the more the obstacle negotiation performance improved and fall rate decreased.
|Journal||The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - Mar 15 2019|