Effects of pallidotomy and levodopa on walking and reaching movements in Parkinson's disease

Mov Disord. 2003 Sep;18(9):1008-17. doi: 10.1002/mds.10494.


We examined the effects of levodopa and unilateral pallidotomy on quantitative measures of walking and reaching in Parkinson's disease (PD). We also compared quantitative measures of movement with standard clinical rating scales. We used kinematic measures and the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) motor subscale (subscale III) to evaluate the movement of 10 people with PD. Subjects were tested after withholding PD medications for at least 8 hours and again 30 to 45 minutes after taking the first morning dose of levodopa. They were studied in this manner before unilateral pallidotomy and then 3.5 to 10 months after surgery. The UPDRS motor subscale was performed in each state. Kinematic data were collected as subjects reached to a target and walked. The UPDRS motor subscale ratings were similar to those reported in the literature: pallidotomy improved the overall motor score and the contralateral bradykinesia + rigidity score, but not the gait + posture score. In contrast, kinematic measures demonstrated that levodopa and pallidotomy had different effects on walking and reaching speed. Both treatments improved walking speed, and the effect was additive. Levodopa improved reaching speed before pallidotomy but did not improve it as much after pallidotomy. Additionally, pallidotomy had inconsistent effects on reaching; some subjects were faster and others were slower. The subjects who initially reached more slowly improved after pallidotomy; the subjects who initially reached more normally (faster) worsened after pallidotomy. On the basis of our results, we speculate that basal ganglia output pathways that control walking and reaching may be distinct, such that bilateral projections to the pedunculopontine area influence walking, whereas ipsilateral thalamocortical projections influence reaching.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Gait / drug effects
  • Globus Pallidus / physiopathology
  • Globus Pallidus / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / drug effects*
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / surgery
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stereotaxic Techniques
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Levodopa