Walking stability using harmonic ratios in Parkinson's disease

Kristin A Lowry, Ann L Smiley-Oyen, Andrew J Carrel, John P Kerr
Movement Disorders: Official Journal of the Movement Disorder Society 2009 January 30, 24 (2): 261-7
Kinematic changes in Parkinson's disease (PD) gait are well documented; however, upper body dynamics are less understood. Harmonic ratios (HRs) measure the rhythm of trunk accelerations and can be examined in the vertical, anterior-posterior, and mediolateral planes, providing an indication of global walking stability (lower HR indicates poorer stability). We examined differences in HRs between persons with PD and healthy older adults and relationships between HRs and stride parameters. Eleven people with PD and 11 older adults walked over ground at their preferred pace. A triaxial accelerometer measured trunk accelerations. HRs and spatiotemporal parameters were calculated and standardized to remove the influence of gait velocity. The PD group exhibited lower HRs in all three planes, with the most pronounced differences in the mediolateral and anterior-posterior planes. Greater stride time variability was most closely associated with a lower anterior-posterior HR in PD and the presence of disease with the mediolateral HR. By demonstrating decreased walking stability in medial-lateral and anterior-posterior planes, we conclude that HRs offer unique information beyond that of typical stride parameters, and stride time variability is most closely associated with these direct measures of global walking stability.

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