To analyse the effect of concomitant cognitive or motor task performance on balance control in Parkinson's disease (PD), we performed a posturographic study in 24 PD patients and in 20 sex- and age-matched control subjects. Postural sway was measured with eyes open (EO) and eyes closed (EC) during quiet stance and during performance of calculation or motor sequence of thumb opposition to the other fingers. No difference of centre of foot pressure (COP) parameters was observed during quiet standing (either EO or EC) between patients and controls, but visual deprivation induced in both groups a worsening of postural stability. COP area was significantly increased in PD patients during dual task performance, whereas no difference of COP path and x-y axes was observed. The effects induced by the performance of cognitive or motor task were significantly more evident in PD patients with clinical evidence of postural instability (presence of prior falls in the history). This study demonstrates that dual task interference on postural control can be observed in PD patients during performance of cognitive as well as motor tasks. The balance deterioration during dual task performance was significantly enhanced in patients with history of prior falls. These findings have some implications for the strategies to be used in reducing the risk of fall in PD.
Copyright 2003 Movement Disorder Society