Freezing is a disabling symptom in patients with Parkinson's disease. We investigated the effectiveness of a new rehabilitation strategy based on treadmill training associated with auditory and visual cues. Forty Parkinsonian patients with freezing were randomly assigned to two groups: Group 1 underwent a rehabilitation program based on treadmill training associated with auditory and visual cues, while Group 2 followed a rehabilitation protocol using cues and not associated with treadmill. Functional evaluation was based on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale Motor Section (UPDRS III), Freezing of Gait Questionnaire (FOGQ), 6-minute walking test (6MWT), gait speed, and stride cycle. Patients in both the groups had significant improvements in all variables considered by the end of the rehabilitation program (all P = 0.0001). Patients treated with the protocol including treadmill, had more improvement than patients in Group 2 in most functional indicators (P = 0.007, P = 0.0004, P = 0.0126, and P = 0.0263 for FOGQ, 6MWT, gait speed, stride cycle, respectively). The most striking result was obtained for 6MWT, with a mean increase of 130 m in Group 1 compared with 57 m in Group 2. Our results suggest that treadmill training associated with auditory and visual cues might give better results than more conventional treatments. Treadmill training probably acts as a supplementary external cue.
(c) 2009 Movement Disorder Society.