Deficits in stepping response time are associated with impairments in balance and mobility in people with Huntington disease

J Neurol Sci. 2010 Nov 15;298(1-2):91-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2010.08.002.


Huntington disease (HD) is a disorder characterized by chorea, dystonia, bradykinesia, cognitive decline and psychiatric comorbidities. Balance and gait impairments, as well as falls, are common manifestations of the disease. The importance of compensatory rapid stepping to maintain equilibrium in older adults is established, yet little is known of the role of stepping response times (SRTs) in balance control in people with HD. SRTs and commonly-used clinical measures of balance and mobility were evaluated in fourteen symptomatic participants with HD, and nine controls at a university mobility research laboratory. Relative and absolute reliability, as well as minimal detectable change in SRT were quantified in the HD participants. HD participants exhibited slower SRTs and poorer dynamic balance, mobility and motor performance than controls. HD participants also reported lower balance confidence than controls. Deficits in SRT were associated with low balance confidence and impairments on clinical measures of balance, mobility, and motor performance in HD participants. Measures of relative and absolute reliability indicate that SRT is reliable and reproducible across trials in people with HD. A moderately low percent minimal detectable change suggests that SRT appears sensitive to detecting real change in people with HD. SRT is impaired in people with HD and may be a valid and objective marker of disease progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results