OBJECTIVE: We aimed to describe the prevalence and clinical-demographical features of patients with functional gait disorders (FGDs) and to compare them to patients with functional motor disorders (FMDs) without FGDs (No-FGDs).
METHODS: In this multicenter observational study, we enrolled patients with a clinically definite diagnosis of FMDs in 25 tertiary movement disorders centers in Italy. Each subject with FMDs underwent a comprehensive clinical assessment, including screening for different subtypes of functional gait disorders. Multivariate regression models were implemented in order to estimate the adjusted odds ratio (OR; 95% confidence interval) of having FGDs in relation to sociodemographic and clinical characteristics.
RESULTS: Out of 410 FMDs, 26.6% (n = 109) of patients exhibited FGDs. The most frequent FGDs were slow gait (n = 43, 39.4%), astasia-abasia (n = 26, 23.8%), and knee buckling (n = 24, 22%). They exhibited single FGDs in 51.4% (n = 56) or complex FGDs (more than one type of FGDs) in 48.6% (n = 53) of cases. On multivariate regression analysis, the presence of FGDs was more likely associated with older age (OR 1.03, 95% CI 1.01-1.04), functional visual symptoms (OR 2.19, 95% CI 1.08-4.45), and the diagnosis of somatic symptoms disorder (OR 2.97, 95% CI 1.08-8.17). FGDs were also more likely to undergo physiotherapy (OR 1.81, 95% CI 1.08-3.03).
CONCLUSIONS: People with FMDs may present with different and overlapping types of FGDs, which may occur in older age. The association of FGDs with functional visual symptoms and somatic symptoms disorder opens up to new avenues to the understanding of the neural mechanisms of these disorders.