In the present study, the progression of gait impairment in a group of patients with primary degenerative cerebellar ataxias was observed over a period of 4 years. A total of 30 patients underwent an initial gait analysis study, and thereafter only 12 were evaluated because they completed the 2- and 4-year follow-up evaluations. Time–distance parameters, trunk and joint range of motion (RoM), and variability parameters (e.g., coefficients of variation) were measured at the baseline and at each follow-up evaluation. The scale for the assessment and rating of ataxia (SARA) was used to evaluate disease severity. We found a significant increase in the SARA score at both the 2- and 4-year follow-up evaluations. Almost all the gait variables changed significantly only at the 4-year follow-up. Particularly, we found a significant decrease in the step length and in the hip, knee, and ankle joint RoM values and noted a significant increase in the trunk rotation RoM and stride-to-stride and step length variability. Furthermore, a significant difference in ankle joint RoM was found between spinocerebellar ataxia and sporadic adult-onset ataxia patients, with the value being lower in the former group of patients. Our findings suggest that patients with degenerative cerebellar ataxias exhibit gait decline after 4 years from the baseline. Moreover, patients try to maintain an effective gait by adopting different compensatory mechanisms during the course of the disease in spite of disease progression.
- Cerebellar ataxia