An ambulatory persistence power curve: Motor planning affects ambulatory persistence in Parkinson's disease

Academic Article


  • Background/objectives: When performing activity associated with walking, the amount of walking a person does often will depend on their plans. This study was designed to evaluate the relationship between motor planning and ambulatory persistence in participants with Parkinson's disease (PD) and to see if ambulatory persistence was related to the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL). Methods: 20 individuals with idiopathic PD were recruited to perform the Trail making Test (a test of motor planning) and to wear a step activity monitor for 48 h. The measurement of persistence of an ambulatory event consisted of the number of steps taken during an event and an ambulatory event was defined as continuous ambulation (taking step) without pausing for 3 or more seconds. The resumption of taking step (ambulation) after 3 or more seconds counted as a new ambulatory event. UPDRS-motor and ADL scale were also obtained. Analysis and results: The cumulative percentage of the total ambulatory events at each number of steps was plotted for each subject which when plotted could be described as a sigmoid curve. We found that this sigmoidal curve defined by the equation y = xn/(kn + xn), fit the data well, where k represents a constant specific to each subject, x represents the number of steps during each ambulatory event, and y represents the projected percentage of movement events containing x number of steps or less. (Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) = 0.02, R2 = 0.98). Trail making test part A was highly associated with the constant k (R = -0.74, p < 0.001). The constant k was also highly associated with the UPDRS ADL subscale (R = -0.81, p = 0.0001). A forward bivariate regression model including Part A of the Trail making test, and the UPDRS-ADL subscale predicted 66% of the variability of the constant k. The overall number of steps taken per day, and the UPDRS motor subscale did not contribute to the model. Conclusions: Defective motor planning in Parkinson's disease as measured by poor performance on a Trail making test is associated with a measurable alteration in ambulatory persistence, and altered ambulatory persistence, quantified by our proposed model parameter, correlates highly with the UPDRS ADL score. Thus, cognitive-motor planning defects might be a major source of disability in PD. We suggest that in future clinical practice gait tests can be used in order to quantify short-term planning ability in neurodegenerative diseases. © 2008.
  • Authors

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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Xanthopoulos P; Heilman KM; Drago V; Pardalos P; Foster PS; Skidmore FM
  • Start Page

  • 105
  • End Page

  • 109
  • Volume

  • 448
  • Issue

  • 1