Turning strategies in patients with cerebellar ataxia

Silvia Mari, Mariano Serrao, Carlo Casali, Carmela Conte, Alberto Ranavolo, Luca Padua, Francesco Draicchio, Sergio Iavicoli, Stefano Monamì, Giorgio Sandrini, Francesco Pierelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Turning while walking is a common but demanding task requiring modification of the motor program from linear walking to lateral turning and it is associated with a high risk of falls. Patients with cerebellar ataxia have unstable gait and report a high incidence of falls. In the present study, we investigated the motor strategies adopted by ataxic patients when performing turns of different degrees and directions of rotation. Ten ataxic patients and 10 controls were analyzed while performing 30°/90° turns to the right/left. We recorded the number of completed turn tasks, the number of steps needed, and the time taken to complete the task, time-distance parameters and the onset of head, trunk and pelvis reorientation. The ataxic patients were less able to complete 90°turns, displayed a greater stride width, shorter step length, and greater number of steps when turning, and were unable to flexibly adjust their stride width across the turning task. The duration of the turning task and of the segmental reorientation did not differ from control values. Our findings indicate that ataxic patients have more difficulties in performing large turns and adopt a series of compensatory strategy aimed at reducing the instability associated with turning, such as enlarge the base of support, shorten the step length, increase the number of steps, and use the multi-step rather than the spin-turn strategy. Given the high risk of falls related to this task, it would be useful to include turning training in the rehabilitation protocol of ataxic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Cerebellar ataxias
  • Gait analysis
  • Segmental reorientation
  • Turning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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