Split-belt locomotion in Parkinson's disease with and without freezing of gait

W Nanhoe-Mahabier, A.H. Snijders, A Delval, V Weerdesteyn, J Duysens, S Overeem, B R Bloem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Parkinson's disease (PD) patients have an increased gait asymmetry and variability, which is most pronounced in patients with freezing of gait (FOG). We examined if stride time variability and deficits in interlimb coordination between the upper and lower limbs would increase during split-belt locomotion in PD, and particularly so in patients with FOG.

METHODS: Fourteen PD patients (seven with FOG, matched for disease severity with the seven non-freezers) and 10 healthy controls walked on a treadmill with split belts at different speeds (2 versus 3km/h). Gait was recorded by means of a video motion analysis system. Outcome measures were stride length asymmetry and variability, stride time asymmetry and variability, ipsilateral and contralateral interlimb coordination, and phase coordination index.

RESULTS: Both PD subjects and controls were able to adapt to split-belt walking by modulating their stride length. However, freezers showed a larger increase in stride time asymmetry and stride time variability due to split-belt walking compared to non-freezers. Furthermore, contralateral interlimb coordination improved in control subjects during split-belt walking, but not in PD patients (freezers and non-freezers). Phase coordination index did not change differently across the three groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The ability to walk under split-belt conditions was preserved in PD. Non-freezers and controls compensated for the experimentally increased stride length asymmetry by decreasing their stride time asymmetry. This ability was lost in freezers, who in fact increased their stride time asymmetry during split-belt walking. As a result, stride time variability also increased in freezers. These findings support the hypothesis that FOG is related to gait asymmetries and to gait timing deficits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-6
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise Test
  • Gait
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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