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Impaired Weight-Shift Amplitude in People with Parkinson’s Disease with Freezing of Gait

journal contribution
posted on 07.05.2021, 07:26 by Bauke Wybren Dijkstra, Moran Gilat, L Eduardo Cofré Lizama, Martina Mancini, Bruno Bergmans, Sabine MP Verschueren, Alice Nieuwboer
Background: People with Parkinson’s disease and freezing of gait (FOG; freezers) suffer from pronounced postural instability. However, the relationship between these phenomena remains unclear and has mostly been tested in paradigms requiring step generation. Objective: To determine if freezing-related dynamic balance deficits are present during a task without stepping and determine the influence of dopaminergic medication on dynamic balance control. Methods: Twenty-two freezers, 16 non-freezers, and 20 healthy age-matched controls performed mediolateral weight-shifts at increasing frequencies when following a visual target projected on a screen (MELBA task). The amplitude and phase shift differences between center of mass and target motion were measured. Balance scores (Mini-BESTest), 360° turning speed and the freezing ratio were also measured. Subjects with Parkinson’s disease were tested ON and partial OFF (overnight withdrawal) dopaminergic medication. Results: Freezers had comparable turning speed and balance scores to non-freezers and took more levodopa. Freezers produced hypokinetic weight-shift amplitudes throughout the MELBA task compared to non-freezers (p = 0.002), which were already present at task onset (p < 0.001). Freezers also displayed an earlier weight-shift breakdown than controls when OFF-medication (p = 0.008). Medication improved mediolateral weight-shifting in freezers and non-freezers. Freezers decreased their freezing ratio in response to medication. Conclusion: Hypokinetic weight-shifting proved a marked postural control deficit in freezers, while balance scores and turning speed were similar to non-freezers. Both weight-shift amplitudes and the freezing ratio were responsive to medication in freezers, suggesting axial motor vigor is levodopa-responsive. Future work needs to test whether weight-shifting and freezing severity can be further ameliorated through training.


Publication Date



Journal of Parkinson's Disease




IOS Press



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