"Fear of falling" gait: a potentially reversible psychogenic gait disorder

Cogn Behav Neurol. 2005 Sep;18(3):171-2.


Objective: To describe "fear of falling" gait.

Background: "Fear of falling" gait is a largely psychogenic gait disorder of the elderly that is often unrecognized.

Methods: Report of a representative case and clinical experience.

Results: "Fear of falling" gait usually begins after a fall and is characterized by a shuffling or sliding stride and an intense need to hold on for support. It appears to be most common in elderly women, can be reversed by education, suggestion, and physical therapy, and is often mistaken for Parkinson disease.

Conclusions: "Fear of falling" gait is a potentially reversible, largely psychogenic gait disorder that occurs mostly in women and must be distinguished from other gait disorders in the elderly.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / psychology*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Paroxetine / therapeutic use
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Paroxetine