Energy cost of spontaneous walking in Parkinson's disease patients

Martina A. Maggioni, Arsenio Veicsteinas, Susanna Rampichini, Emiliano Cé, Raffaello Nemni, Giulio Riboldazzi, Giampiero Merati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In healthy subjects, comfortable walking minimizes the energy cost (Ec) of locomotion. In Parkinson's disease (PD) patients walking is slower than in healthy subjects: this may increase Ec. Our aims were to analyze gait and Ec in PD patients during walking, particularly at self-selected speed, and the possible pathological, mechanical, and cardiorespiratory limitations. Fourteen mild-to-moderate PD and 14 control subjects were enrolled. Subjects underwent 5-min walking tests at two speeds: self-selected and as-fast-as-possible speeds. Cardiopulmonary and gait parameters (heart rate, ventilation, gas exchanges, step count) were recorded. Velocity was reduced in PD compared to control subjects at both speeds (P2 kg-1 m-1 in PD and control subjects, respectively) and maximal (0.14 ± 0.03 versus 0.15 ± 0.02 mLO2 kg-1 m-1 in PD and control subjects, respectively) speed. However, the Ec increment from self-selected to fastest velocity was significantly lower (P = 0.02) in PD patients. PD patients failed to walk at a self-selected speed, which minimizes the Ec. This could be mainly due to the inability to develop awider stride. Cardiorespiratory adaptation was not affected, except for the possible reduced cardiac adaptation observed in some (28%) cases. Presumably, rehabilitation procedures that improve flexibility and step length may help maintain walking ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-784
Number of pages6
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Clinical scores
  • Efficiency
  • Gait
  • Oxygen consumption
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Spontaneous walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Dermatology

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  • Cite this

    Maggioni, M. A., Veicsteinas, A., Rampichini, S., Cé, E., Nemni, R., Riboldazzi, G., & Merati, G. (2012). Energy cost of spontaneous walking in Parkinson's disease patients. Neurological Sciences, 33(4), 779-784.