Effects of deep brain stimulation on the kinematics of gait and balance in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease


      • Advanced Parkinson's disease is associated with gait alterations and postural instability.
      • Effects of subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation on gait and balance remain a matter of debate.
      • We have analysed gait of Parkinson's disease patients with stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus.
      • Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation improved gait and balance in these patients.
      • Our results highlight the major role of the subthalamic nucleus in motor control mechanisms.



      Advanced stages of idiopathic Parkinson's disease are often characterised by gait alterations and postural instability. Despite improvements in patients' motor symptoms after deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus, its effects on gait and balance remain a matter of debate. This study investigated the effects of deep brain stimulation on balance and kinematic parameters of gait.


      The gait of 26 patients with advanced idiopathic Parkinson's disease was analysed before and after (between 3 and 6 months) after bilateral deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus. Computerised analysis was used to study cadence, number of cycles with the correct support sequence, number of cycles, duration of the cycle stages, and knee and ankle goniometry. Balance, postural instability, and mobility were assessed using the Tinetti and Timed Up and Go test.


      After stimulation, the following changes were significant (p < 0.01): number of cycles with the correct support sequence, number of total cycles, and foot contact. Patients improved significantly (p < 0.01) in the Tinetti and Timed Up and Go tests, the risk factors for falls changed from high (median 17) to low (median 25), and they improved from minor dependence (statistical median 14) to normality (statistical median 8.70).


      Deep brain stimulation to inhibit hyperactivity of the subthalamic nucleus was associated with an improvement in the space-time variables of gait and balance in patients with Parkinson's disease for up to 3–6 months. These results highlight the major role of the subthalamic nucleus in motor control mechanisms during locomotion and balance.


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