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BMC Neurology

, 14:250

Movement disorders


BackgroundRecent research has argued that removal of relevant sensory information during the planning and control of simple, self-paced walking can result in increased demand on central processing resources in Parkinson’s disease PD. However, little is known about more complex gait tasks that require planning of gait adaptations to cross over an obstacle in PD.

MethodsIn order to understand the interaction between availability of visual information relevant for self-motion and cognitive load, the current study evaluated PD participants and healthy controls while walking toward and stepping over an obstacle in three visual feedback conditions: i no visual restrictions; ii vision of the obstacle and their lower limbs while in complete darkness; iii vision of the obstacle only while in complete darkness; as well as two conditions including a cognitive load with a dual task versus without a dual task. Each walk trial was divided into an early and late phase to examine changes associated with planning of step adjustments when approaching the obstacle.

ResultsInteractions between visual feedback and dual task conditions during the obstacle approach were not significant. Patients with PD had greater deceleration and step time variability in the late phase of the obstacle approach phase while walking in both dark conditions compared to control participants. Additionally, participants with PD had a greater number of obstacle contacts when vision of their lower limbs was not available specifically during the dual task condition. Dual task performance was worse in PD compared to healthy control participants, but notably only while walking in the dark regardless of visual feedback.

ConclusionsThese results suggest that reducing visual feedback while approaching an obstacle shifts processing to somatosensory feedback to guide movement which imposes a greater demand on planning resources. These results are key to fully understanding why trips and falls occur in those with PD.

KeywordsParkinson’s disease Visual feedback Dual task Gait with obstacle Cognitive load Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s12883-014-0250-8 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Frederico Pieruccini-Faria - Kaylena A Ehgoetz Martens - Carolina RA Silveira - Jeffery A Jones - Quincy J Almeida


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