Researchers have suggested that sensory cues can improve gait initiation in persons with Parkinson's disease (PD); however, there is little research that documents the effects of sensory cues on gait initiation. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of auditory and cutaneous sensory cues on maximal speed gait initiation in person's with PD and healthy elderly. Seven persons with PD of moderate severity (mean age=69 years) and seven age, gender, and height matched healthy elders participated. Temporal, kinematic and center of pressure (COP) data were recorded as participants performed eight trials within four randomly ordered conditions (no cue (NC), a single auditory cue (SA), repetitive auditory cues (RA), and repetitive cutaneous cues (RC)). In each condition, participants were instructed to perform each gait initiation trial at their maximal speed. In all conditions, person's with PD reacted more slowly and moved less far than did the matched elders. Relative to conditions with NCs, sensory cueing resulted in decreased double limb support (DLS), and increased COP displacement and velocity in both groups. However, in both groups, displacements and velocities of the swing limb and sacrum during the sensory-cued conditions were less than those during the NC condition. These results suggest that when movement speed is a primary goal, sensory cues may interfere with swing limb and body movement outcomes during the gait initiation task in both person's with PD and healthy elders.
Copyright 2003 Elsevier B.V.