Gait disturbances are among the primary symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD) and contribute significantly to a patient's loss of function and independence. Standard treatment includes antiparkinsonian drugs, primarily levodopa. In addition to the standard drug regime, physical therapy is often prescribed to help manage the disease. In recent years, there have been promising reports of physical therapy programs combined with various types of sensory cueing for PD. In this brief review of the literature, we summarize the evidence regarding the clinical efficacy of different physical therapy programs for PD, specifically with respect to improving gait. We also discuss the potential therapeutic mechanisms of sensory cueing and review the studies that have used cueing in the treatment of gait in PD. This review of the literature shows two key findings: (1) despite its relatively long history, the evidence supporting the efficacy of conventional physical therapy for treatment of gait in PD is not strong; and (2) although further investigation is needed, sensory cueing appears to be a powerful means of improving gait in PD.
Copyright 2002 Movement Disorder Society