Reduced after-effects following podokinetic adaptation in people with Parkinson's disease and freezing of gait

Samuel T. Nemanich, Gammon M. Earhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Gait dysfunction is common in people with Parkinson's disease (PD). Freezing of gait (FOG) is one such gait disturbance that significantly impacts mobility and quality of life in PD. Recent evidence suggests that cerebellar connectivity may differ in people with PD and FOG (PD+FOG) relative to those without FOG (PD-FOG). Investigation of gait adaptation, or the ability to change gait patterns in response to external perturbations, is cerebellum-dependent, is a practical means of probing cerebellar integrity and may provide additional insights regarding the FOG phenomenon. Methods: In this study, we investigated gait adaptation in PD and FOG by measuring after-effects, namely whole-body rotation, following stepping on a rotating disc in PD+FOG compared to PD-FOG and older healthy adults. We refer to the period of stepping on the rotating disc as the podokinetic (PK) stimulation and after-effects as podokinetic after-rotation (PKAR). Our primary measure of adaptation was the magnitude and rate of decay of the after-effects. Results: We noted that PKAR was diminished in PD+FOG compared to the other groups, indicating reduced storage of the adapted gait pattern in PD+FOG. In the PD groups, FOG explained about 20% of the variability in peak velocity. Furthermore, these differences were independent of stepping cadence or motor sign severity. Conclusion: Our results show that gait adaptation is impaired in PD+FOG, suggesting the cerebellum may be differentially impacted in PD+FOG compared to PD-FOG. This supports previous neuroimaging evidence of cerebellar dysfunction in PD+FOG. Overall, these data further our understanding of gait deficits in PD+FOG.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-97
Number of pages5
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • After-effects
  • Freezing of gait
  • Locomotor adaptation
  • Parkinson disease

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