The effectiveness and acceptability of different cueing devices for people with parkinsons disease and gait initiation difficulties

McCandless, Paula, Evans, Brenda Joy, Richards, Jim orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4004-3115, Churchill, Andrew and Selfe, James (2011) The effectiveness and acceptability of different cueing devices for people with parkinsons disease and gait initiation difficulties. Physiotherapy, 97 . eS772-eS772. ISSN 00319406

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Purpose: To investigate the effects of three cueing devices (visual, auditory, and somatosensory) on movement and muscular control during gait initiation in people with Parkinson’s disease who experience freezing and to ascertain the acceptability of these cueing devices to novice users. Relevance: Over six million people worldwide are affected by Parkinson’s disease. It is estimated that thirty percent may experience freezing (an inability to produce effective steps) and have difficulty initiating gait, and maintaining gait whilst negotiating obstacles. This limits their capacity for physical activity and ability to participate in usual activities, and can result in social isolation. Various sensory cues have been shown to improve on-going gait in people with Parkinson’s Disease, but there is limited evidence on their effectiveness for people with gait initiation difficulties. Jiang and Norman (2006) found that transverse line visual cues improved gait initiation, while auditory cues had no effect. Dibble et al. (2004), using auditory and cutaneous cues during maximal speed gait initiation found an adverse effect on movement outcomes. Portable cueing devices are commercially available, however their influence in gait initiation and acceptability to users is currently unknown. InformaWPT2011, Research Report Abstracts eS773 tion on their effectiveness would enable physical therapists to provide better informed advice to potential purchasers. Participants: Twenty participants with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease and a history of freezing of gait (evaluated using item 14 of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale) were recruited; 14 males and 6 females, mean age 68 years and 11.5 years since diagnosis. Methods: An experimental trial of five randomised conditions: laser cane, sound metronome, vibrating metronome, walking stick and uncued. After using each cue participants’ opinions were obtained via a questionnaire. Motion data were collected using a 10 camera motion analysis system, force platforms and surface Electromyography. Analysis: Questionnaire responses from twelve participants who experienced freezing during testing were analysed using a Wilcoxon signed ranks test. Motion data from these participants were analysed using one-way ANOVA tests with post-hoc pair-wise comparisons to test for differences between conditions. Results: Significant differences were seen in step length, Centre of Mass and Centre of Pressure movement in the anterior/ posterior and medial/lateral directions between freezing and non-freezing episodes. The post hoc pair-wise comparisons showed significant improvements in the Centre of Mass and Centre of Pressure movement when using the laser cane and the walking stick and greater step length when using the laser cane. Participants rated the perceived effectiveness of the devices, theWilcoxon test showed a significant improvement in satisfaction when using the laser cane for both starting and maintaining walking (p < 0.05). Conclusions: The laser cane was overall the most effective cueing device for people with Parkinson’s disease and gait initiation difficulties in both user’s perception and efficacy tested in the gait laboratory. However the longer term effectiveness and acceptability of cueing devices at home and outdoors requires further investigation. Implications: This study would support the use of the laser cane as a relatively cheap intervention for people with Parkinson’s disease who experience spontaneous freezing.

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