The transition between turning and sitting in patients with Parkinson's disease: A wearable device detects an unexpected sequence of events

Gait Posture. 2019 Jan:67:224-229. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.10.018. Epub 2018 Oct 21.


Background: When older adults turn to sit, about 80% of the subjects complete the turn before starting to sit i.e., a distinct-strategy, while in about 20%, part of the turning and sitting take place concurrently, i.e., an overlapping-strategy. A prolonged duration of the separation between tasks in the distinct-strategy (D-interval) and a prolonged duration of the overlap interval in overlapping-strategy (O-interval) are related to worse motor symptoms and poorer cognition. In the present study, we evaluated what strategy is employed by patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) when they transition from turning to sitting.

Methods: 96 participants with PD performed turn to sit as part of the Timed Up and Go test, both with and without medications, while wearing a body-fixed sensor. We quantified the turn-to-sit transition and determined which strategy (distinct or overlapping) was employed. We then stratified the cases and used regression models adjusted for age, gender, height, and weight to examine the associations of the D-interval or O-interval with parkinsonian features and cognition.

Results: Most patients (66%) employed the overlapping-strategy, both off and on anti-parkinsonian medications. Longer O-intervals were associated with longer duration of PD, more severe PD motor symptoms, a higher postural-instability-gait-disturbance (PIGD) score, and worse freezing of gait. Longer D-intervals were not associated with disease duration or PD motor symptoms. Neither the D- nor O-intervals were related to cognitive function. Individuals who employed the overlapping-strategy had more severe postural instability (i.e., higher PIGD scores), as compared to those who used the distinct-strategy.

Significance: In contrast to older adults without PD, most patients with PD utilize the overlapping strategy. Poorer postural and gait control are associated with the strategy choice and with the duration of concurrent performance of turning and sitting. Additional work is needed to further explicate the mechanisms underlying these strategies and their clinical implications.

Keywords: Accelerometer; Body-fixed sensor; Cognitive function; Parkinson's disease; Wearables.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / instrumentation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Neurological / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Sitting Position
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Wearable Electronic Devices / statistics & numerical data*