Relationships between gait and emotion in Parkinson's disease: A narrative review

Laura Avanzino, Giovanna Lagravinese, Giovanni Abbruzzese, Elisa Pelosin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Disturbance of gait is a key feature of Parkinson's disease (PD) and has a negative impact on quality of life. Deficits in cognition and sensorimotor processing impair the ability of people with PD to walk quickly, efficiently and safely. Recent evidence suggests that emotional disturbances may also affect gait in PD. Research question: We explored if there were relationships between walking ability, emotion and cognitive impairment in people with PD. Methods: The literature was firstly reviewed for unimpaired individuals. The recent experimental evidence for the influence of emotion on gait in people with PD was then explored. The contribution of affective disorders to continuous gait disorders was investigated, particularly for bradykinetic and hypokinetic gait. In addition, we investigated the influence of emotional processing on episodic gait disturbances, such as freezing of gait. Potential effects of pharmacological, surgical and physical therapy interventions were also considered. Results: Emerging evidence showed that emotional disturbances arising from affective disorders such as anxiety and depression, in addition to cognitive impairment, could contribute to gait disorders in some people with PD. An analysis of the literature indicated mixed evidence that improvements in affective disorders induced by physical therapy, pharmacological management or surgery improve locomotion in PD. Significance: When assessing and treating gait disorders in people with PD, it is important to take into the account non-motor symptoms such as anxiety, depression and cognitive impairment, in addition to the motor sequalae of this progressive neurological condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-64
Number of pages8
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Emotion
  • Gait
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Pharmacological treatment
  • Physical therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation

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