Parkinson’s disease, gait, and Nordic walking
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodegenerative disorders and presents with several functionally limiting motor symptoms such as bradykinesia, reduced postural stability, rigidity, and altered gait dynamics. Altered gait characteristics include a reduced gait speed, shorter stride length, reduced arm swing and increased step cadence. Nordic walking has previously been shown as effective at improving postural stability and walking distance in PD patients, however, its specific and immediate effects on gait dynamics have not been described in detail.
The current study compared 14 PD patients with 10, non PD, controls to ascertain the effect of walking poles on spatiotemporal dynamics of gait during Nordic walking. Specific measures included gait speed, cadence and step length. Participants in the study had their gait analysed using an ambulatory recorder fixed to the individual’s ankle and completed a 12-minute walking session around an indoor track with or without Nordic walking poles. Data analysis showed that PD patients had significantly increased gait speed, step length and decreased step cadence whilst Nordic walking as compared to normal walking.
These immediate effects of Nordic walking on the gait mechanics of PD patients suggest that Nordic walking may be a viable alternative to other walking aids for improving gait. Furthermore, as sustained programs of Nordic walking have also been shown to improve gait mechanics in PD patients, this intervention should be considered for early to mid-stage disease as a means of improving ambulatory function.
> From: Warlop et al., J Neuroeng Rehab 14 (2017) 17(Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to The Author(s). Click here for the online summary.