Typical features of cerebellar ataxic gait
- Department of Neurology, Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel, Niemannsweg 147, D-24105 Kiel, Germany
- Correspondence to: Professor G Deuschl, Neurologische Klinik der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Niemannsweg 147, 2405 Kiel, Germany;
- Received 19 November 2001
- Accepted 14 February 2002
- Revised 11 February 2002
Background: Although gait disturbance is one of the most pronounced and disabling symptoms in cerebellar disease (CD), quantitative studies on this topic are rare.
Objectives: To characterise the typical clinical features of cerebellar gait and to analyse ataxia quantitatively.
Methods: Twelve patients with various cerebellar disorders were compared with 12 age matched controls. Gait was analysed on a motor driven treadmill using a three dimensional system. A tandem gait paradigm was used to quantify gait ataxia.
Results: For normal locomotion, a significantly reduced step frequency with a prolonged stance and double limb support duration was found in patients with CD. All gait measurements were highly variable in CD. Most importantly, balance related gait variables such as step width and foot rotation angles were increased in CD, indicating the need for stability during locomotion. The tandem gait paradigm showed typical features of cerebellar ataxia such as dysmetria, hypometria, hypermetria, and inappropriate timing of foot placement.
Conclusions: Typical features of gait in CD are reduced cadence with increased balance related variables and an almost normal range of motion (with increased variability) in the joints of the lower extremity. The tandem gait paradigm accentuates all the features of gait ataxia and is the most sensitive clinical test.