Effect of L-dopa and subthalamic nucleus stimulation on arm and leg swing during gait in Parkinson's Disease.

I. Carpinella, P. Crenna, A. Marzegan, M. Rabuffetti, M. Rizzone, L. Lopiano, M. Ferrarin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The effects of subthalamic nucleus (STN) stimulation and L-dopa administration on the arm and leg swing movements associated with overground walking were studied in a group of patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD). Ten patients undergoing deep brain stimulation and twenty controls were tested using 3D kinematic motion analysis. Parkinsonian patients under basal conditions walked more slowly and with reduced arm and leg swing compared to controls. Moreover, they displayed significant impairments of the normal interlimb coordination. Both STN stimulation and L-dopa increased the walking speed and the amplitude of arm and leg swing movements. Additional improvements of the coordination between upper and lower limb were documented by reductions of the phase-shift between arm and ipsilateral leg motion, with displacement toward the control range (perfect counterphase). STN stimulation alone and L-dopa alone produced similar effects on the variables analyzed. The combination of the two treatments, instead, yielded additive effects on the gait speed and a slight increase of the upper and lower limb range of motion, in the absence of further improvements in the inter-segmental coordination. Moreover, whereas the increased arm swing could be accounted by the sole adoption of a higher gait speed, both the increment of the leg movement amplitude and the decreased interlimb phase shift appeared to imply an additional effect, possibly related to the treatment. These results may suggest that differential supraspinal controls operate on the neural networks subserving upper and lower limb motion during human walking.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Signal Processing
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics

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