Gait variability in people with neurological disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Hum Mov Sci. 2016 Jun:47:197-208. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2016.03.010. Epub 2016 Mar 26.


There has been growing evidence showing gait variability provides unique information about gait characteristics in neurological disorders. This study systemically reviewed and quantitatively synthesized (via meta-analysis) existing evidence on gait variability in various neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), cerebellar ataxia (CA), Huntington's disease (HD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson's disease (PD). Keyword search were conducted in PubMed, Web of science, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Cochrane Library. Meta-analysis was performed to estimate the pooled effect size for gait variability for each neurological group. Meta-regression was performed to compare gait variability across multiple groups with neurological diseases. Gait variability of 777 patients with AD, ALS, CA, HD, MS, or PD participating in 25 studies was included in meta-analysis. All pathological groups had increased amount of gait variability and loss of fractal structure of gait dynamics compared to healthy controls, and gait variability differentiated distinctive neurological conditions. The HD groups had the highest alterations in gait variability among all pathological groups, whereas the PD, AD and MS groups had the lowest. Interventions that aim to improve gait function in patients with neurological disorders should consider the heterogeneous relationship between gait variability and neurological conditions.

Keywords: Gait; Meta-analysis; Neurological disease; Systematic review; Variability.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / physiopathology
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / physiopathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology