Duration of step initiation predicts freezing in Parkinson's disease

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6 Scopus citations


Objectives: In some individuals with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD), freezing of gait episodes develops as the disease progresses. The neural mechanism underlying freezing in PD is poorly understood. Here, we report a 2-year follow-up on the novel discovery of prolonged step initiation duration as a potential marker of impending freezing. Methods: Non-freezing PD participants in stages 2.5-4 of the Hoehn and Yahr disease severity scale were recruited from an earlier study which determined the effect of semi-virtual cues on walking. Responders were those who completed the first step faster in the presence of the virtual cues while non-responders either did not change or took longer to complete the first step. Both groups of participants were interviewed 2 years later to determine who had developed freezing of gait. Results: Participants in the responder group had a 13-fold risk of developing freezing of gait within 2 years following the cueing study (OR = 13.3, 95% CI = 1.1-167). A cutoff score of -2.6% (i.e., a decrease in the duration of the first step with visual cues by 2.6% relative to no cues) gave a sensitivity and specificity of 100% and 89%, respectively. Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first novel discovery of a physical predictor of freezing in PD. The time to complete the first step is a simple test to administer in the clinic or at home and may therefore be easily incorporated into a fall prevention training program for PD before the inception of freezing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-110
Number of pages6
JournalActa Neurologica Scandinavica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • falls
  • fear of falling
  • gait
  • questionnaire
  • walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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