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Objective: To evaluate the effect of imposed faster and slower walking speeds on postural stability in people with Parkinson disease (PD). Design: Cross-sectional cohort study. Setting: General community. Participants: Patients with PD (nZ84; 51 with a falls history; 33 without) and age-matched controls (nZ82) were invited to participate via neurology clinics and preexisting databases. Of those contacted, 99 did not respond (PDZ36; controlsZ63) and 27 were not interested (PDZ18; controlsZ9). After screening, a further 10 patients were excluded; 5 had deep brain stimulation surgery and 5 could not accommodate to the treadmill. The remaining patients (NZ30) completed all assessments and were subdivided into PD fallers (nZ10), PD nonfallers (nZ10), and age-matched controls (nZ10) based on falls history. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Three-dimensional accelerometers assessed head and trunk accelerations and allowed calculation of harmonic ratios and root mean square (RMS) accelerations to assess segment control and movement amplitude. Results: Symptom severity, balance confidence, and medical history were established before participants walked on a treadmill at 70%, 100%, and 130% of their preferred speed. Head and trunk control was lower for PD fallers than PD nonfallers and older adults. Significant interactions indicated head and trunk control increased with speed for PD nonfallers and older adults, but did not improve at faster speeds for PD fallers. Vertical head and trunk accelerations increased with walking speed for PD nonfallers and older adults, while the PD fallers demonstrated greater anteroposterior RMS accelerations compared with both other groups. Conclusions: The results suggest that improved gait dynamics do not necessarily represent improved walking stability, and this must be respected when rehabilitating gait in patients with PD.


School of Exercise Science

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Journal Article

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