Locomotor disorders in patients at early stages of Parkinson's disease: a quantitative analysis.

M. Ferrarin, I. Carpinella, M. Rabuffetti, E. Calabrese, P. Mazzoleni, R. Nemni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several studies have been performed with automatic motion analysis techniques to investigated the locomotor disorders of patients with severe Parkinson's disease (PD). These are mainly related to steady-state walking. Aim of the present study was to investigate the presence and the degree of these disorders in patients at early stages of PD. For this purpose a group of patients with mild PD (H&Y <or =2) and a group of age-matched controls were assessed by means of multifactorial analysis of kinematic and kinetic variables, during the execution of the following motor tasks: steady-state walking, gait initiation and turning around an obstacle. Results showed that PD patients did not differ from controls in steady-state walking, while significant differences emerged in gait initiation and turning strategies. Main differences consisted in a limitation of the amplitude of the imbalance phase and of the first step, and, for the turning task, in a delayed initiation of the turning movement, with an altered head-trunk rotational strategy. It is concluded that patients in early stages of PD do not reveal, during steady state walking, consistent impairments of kinematic and kinetic patterns typical of severe PD patients. Nevertheless, they present significant alterations in transient conditions such as gait initiation and change of walking direction. The above results suggest that a quantitative analysis of locomotor tasks which imply the transition from one condition to another, could provide parameters useful for the characterization of early stage PD patients and, potentially, markers for a precox differential diagnosis respect other neurodegenerative diseases characterized by parkinsonisms.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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