Effects of levodopa on forward and backward gait patterns in persons with Parkinson's disease

NeuroRehabilitation. 2011;29(3):247-52. doi: 10.3233/NRE-2011-0700.


Introduction: Backward walking is difficult for persons with Parkinson's disease (PD). It is unknown how levodopa influences backward gait patterns, especially when compared to forward gait patterns.

Purpose: Investigate the effects of levodopa on forward and backward gait patterns in individuals with PD.

Design: A repeated measures design was used.

Methods: The sample consisted of 21 individuals with PD (15 males, 6 females). Their mean age was 70.24 ± 8.69 yr. The average time since diagnosis was 11.81 ± 5.49 years. The median of the Hoehn and Yahr stage while 'ON' medication was 2.57. Gait patterns during forward and backward walking at a self-selected comfortable speed were recorded before and after taking levodopa on the same day.

Results: Levodopa significantly increased gait speed and stride length and decreased the percent of the gait cycle (%GC) spent in double support. Gait speed and stride length were greater and the %GC spent in double support was less during forward walking compared with backward walking. Cadence was not changed by levodopa or walking direction.

Conclusions: Levodopa improved gait characteristics during backward walking in a manner similar to that during forward walking in persons with PD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Gait / drug effects*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / drug therapy*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / etiology
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Walking


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Levodopa