Trunk sway in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia

Mov Disord. 2005 Aug;20(8):1006-13. doi: 10.1002/mds.20486.


We investigated whether quantified measurements of trunk sway during stance and gait tests in patients with autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) could be a useful approach to assess ataxia, which is highly relevant for adequate follow-up and future intervention studies. Examined were 11 SCA patients and 11 age-matched, healthy controls. Postural and balance control were quantified using peak-to-peak measurements of trunk angle and angular velocity, in the roll (lateral) and pitch (anterior-posterior) directions, during a battery of stance and gait tasks. In all stance tasks, trunk angle displacement and angular velocity in both the pitch and roll planes were significantly larger in the SCA group compared with the control group. Among the ataxia patients instability was more increased in the pitch than in the roll direction for two-legged stance tasks, especially when standing on foam, with pronounced oscillations in the pitch plane at 1.4 and 2.5 Hz. A similar dominance of pitch over roll instability was also observed in most gait tasks, especially for tandem gait and while walking with simultaneous head rotations. Trunk sway measurements were effective in detecting and quantifying the gait and balance abnormalities in SCA patients, suggesting that this method might be used for follow-up studies of SCA patients. Furthermore, the method might help to identify early symptomatic individuals and those patients at risk of falling. The postural instability in SCA was found to be multidirectional, although there is generally more pitch than roll instability corresponding with predominant involvement of the spinocerebellum.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination / methods
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Proprioception
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / classification
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / physiopathology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Walking / physiology