Falls and freezing of gait in Parkinson's disease: a review of two interconnected, episodic phenomena

Mov Disord. 2004 Aug;19(8):871-84. doi: 10.1002/mds.20115.


Falls and freezing of gait are two "episodic" phenomena that are common in Parkinson's disease. Both symptoms are often incapacitating for affected patients, as the associated physical and psychosocial consequences have a great impact on the patients' quality of life, and survival is diminished. Furthermore, the resultant loss of independence and the treatment costs of injuries add substantially to the health care expenditures associated with Parkinson's disease. In this clinically oriented review, we summarise recent insights into falls and freezing of gait and highlight their similarities, differences, and links. Topics covered include the clinical presentation, recent ideas about the underlying pathophysiology, and the possibilities for treatment. A review of the literature and the current state-of-the-art suggests that clinicians should not feel deterred by the complex nature of falls and freezing of gait; a careful clinical approach may lead to an individually tailored treatment, which can offer at least partial relief for many affected patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls* / economics
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / physiopathology*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immobilization / physiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome