The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between spatiotemporal parameters of forward and backward gait and quality of compensatory stepping responses in forward and backward directions in people with Parkinson’s disease with and without freezing of gait.
A total of 111 individuals with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease were included in the study. Forward and backward gait velocity and step length were evaluated using a GAITRite walkway. Forward and backward postural responses were evaluated using items from the Mini Balance Evaluation Systems Test and the Movement Disorders Society Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale motor subsection. Relationships between gait and postural responses were examined for the full sample and for sub-groups with and without freezing of gait.
There were significant (p < 0.05) low to moderate correlations between postural responses and gait overall. Correlations were similar in the freezer and non-freezer sub-groups. Freezers performed worse than non-freezers on all gait parameters and backward postural response items (p < 0.05). Low to moderate relationships between gait and postural responses indicate the complexity of postural control and the potential involvement of different neural circuitry across these tasks. Better understanding of the relationships between gait and postural deficits in Parkinson’s disease may inform the future development of targeted interventions to address these impairments.