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Research paper
The relationship between motor planning and freezing of gait in Parkinson's disease
  1. Patricia Knobl,
  2. Lauren Kielstra,
  3. Quincy Almeida
  1. Sun Life Financial Movement Disorders Research and Rehabilitation Centre, Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Quincy Almeida, Wilfrid Laurier University, Sun Life Financial Movement Disorders Research & Rehabilitation Centre, 75 University Ave W, Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5, Canada; qalmeida{at}


Objective To examine how a cued change in motor plan influences Parkinson's disease (PD) patients with freezing of gait (FOG) (PD FOG; n=10), compared with those without FOG (PD non-FOG; n=10) and healthy controls (n=10).

Methods Participants walked through a doorway in three experimental conditions: no cue; cue before gait initiation; and cue after gait initiation. The light cue was presented at the end of the pathway and signified that individuals must walk to the cue, turn around and return to starting position.

Results Step-to-step variability (a known precursor to FOG) revealed a significant main effect of group (F2,27=32.83, p<0.001), where PD FOG walked with greater step length variability than PD non-FOG and the control group. A significant interaction (F4,54=3.035, p=0.025) demonstrated that only the PD FOG group was most variable when the cue was present before gait initiation.

Conclusion This study concludes that motor planning deficits affect gait, specifically in individuals who experience FOG. This may have important implications for the design of therapeutic interventions in PD FOG.

  • Parkinson's disease
  • freezing
  • gait
  • motor plan
  • cognition
  • bimanual coordination
  • proprioception
  • apraxia

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  • The research presented here reflects part of the requirements for the Master's degree in Kinesiology, partially completed by the first author from Wilfrid Laurier University.

  • Funding Patricia Knobl received support from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Dr Almeida received support from the Parkinson's Society of Canada for portions of the current research project. Support was also provided from Sun Life Financial, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Rehabilitation Research Advisory Network and Wilfrid Laurier University's Science & Technology Endowment Fund. The funding source had no role in the study design, data collection, analysis, interpretation of the results, in the writing of the paper or decision to submit the paper for publication.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the Research Ethics Board at Wilfrid Laurier University.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.