Research Insights

Role of sensory input and muscle strength in maintenance of balance, gait, and posture in Parkinson’s disease: a pilot study

Nallegowda M, Singh U, Handa G, Khanna M, Wadhwa S, Yadav SL, Kumar G, & Behari M. (2004 Dec) Role of sensory input and muscle strength in maintenance of balance, gait, and posture in Parkinson’s disease: a pilot study , 83(12):898-908

These authors also cite that falls are more common in patients with PD. They suggest that falls and fears of falls cause musculoskeletal injures, loss of mobility, decreased activities outside of the home, and worsened quality of life. They cite some of the causes of falls, which included muscle weakness, stride changes (usually shorter steps while walking), sensory abnormalities (e.g. vision, vestibular, proprioception [awareness of one’s body in a space]), extrapyramidal dysfunction (impairments in nerves and fibers in the body that coordinate and control movement), and balance difficulties. This study looked at all components (e.g sensory, motor planning, muscle weakness) of balance difficulties and the effects of medication on those difficulties. They studied 30 patients (25 men, 5 women, mean age 57.7 years, and disease duration 4.3 years) with PD during their ON and OFF stages and 30 healthy age/sex-matched controls. Seventy percent of the patients reported difficulties with falls prior to the study. Their results suggested that reduced muscle strength (spine, hip, and ankle), decreased proprioception, and necessity to have visual information were some of the main causes of posture instability in patients with PD. They also found that dopaminergic drugs (drugs that increase a chemical in the brain that PD decreases) improved patient’s motor functioning, strength, and speed.

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