J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 65:580-582 doi:10.1136/jnnp.65.4.580
  • Short report

Verbal instructional sets to normalise the temporal and spatial gait variables in Parkinson’s disease

  1. Andrea L Behrmana,
  2. Philip Teitelbaumb,
  3. James H Cauraughc
  1. aDepartment of Physical Therapy, Motor Behavior Laboratory, PO Box 100154, bDepartment of Psychology, PO Box 112250, cDepartment of Exercise and Sport Sciences, Motor Behavior Laboratory, PO Box 118206, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA
  1. Dr Andrea L Behrman, Department of Physical Therapy, Motor Behavior Laboratory, PO Box 100154, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.
  • Received 1 July 1997
  • Revised 9 March 1998
  • Accepted 16 March 1998


Gait in Parkinson’s disease is characterised by slowed velocity; shuffling, small steps; and absent arm swing. Drug therapy intervention is beneficial in improving mobility, though with prolonged use its effects may diminish. The purpose of this study was to examine whether Parkinsonian patients could improve their gait patterns in response to five instructional sets: natural walking; walking while deliberately swinging the arms; walking with large steps; fast walking; and walking while counting aloud. Eight subjects with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease and eight age matched control subjects were tested using motion analysis. The findings indicated that parkinsonian patients followed the instructions which immediately altered a series of single walking variables. Simultaneously, automatically activated changes occurred in other gait variables producing more normal gait. The instructional set is a strategy which can aid normalisation of Parkinsonian gait although its benefits may depend on the stage of disease progression and the degree of attention to the instructions.


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