Internal cueing improves gait more than external cueing in healthy adults and people with Parkinson disease

Elinor C. Harrison, Adam P. Horin, Gammon M. Earhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Walking can be challenging for aging individuals and people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson disease (PD). Gait impairment characterized by reduced speed and higher variability destabilizes gait and increases the risk of falls. External auditory cueing provides an effective strategy to improve gait, as matching footfalls to rhythms typically increases gait speed and elicits larger steps, but the need to synchronize to an outside source often has a detrimental effect on gait variability. Internal cueing in the form of singing may provide an alternative to conventional gait therapy. In the present study, we compare the effects of internal and external cueing techniques on forward and backward walking for both people with PD and healthy controls. Results indicate that internal cueing was associated with improvements in gait velocity, cadence, and stride length in the backward direction, and reduced variability in both forward and backward walking. In comparison, external cueing was associated with minimal improvement in gait characteristics and a decline in gait stability. People with gait impairment due to aging or neurological decline may benefit more from internal cueing techniques such as singing as compared to external cueing techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15525
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


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