The impact of attentional, auditory, and combined cues on walking during single and cognitive dual tasks in Parkinson disease

Corey A Lohnes, Gammon M Earhart
Gait & Posture 2011, 33 (3): 478-83
Auditory and attentional cues improve gait in Parkinson disease (PD), but it is unclear if combining the two cueing strategies offers additional benefit. Further, the effect of a secondary cognitive task on cue efficacy is unknown. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the effects of cue type and task complexity on gait in PD. 11 participants with PD, 11 age-matched controls, and 11 young controls performed 3 walking trials on a GAITRite walkway under the following cueing conditions: no cue (baseline), rhythmic auditory cue at 10% below (AUD-10) and 10% above (AUD+10) self selected cadence, attentional cue (ATT; "take long strides"), and a combination of AUD and ATT (COM-10, COM+10). Each condition was also performed concurrently with a secondary word generation task (dual task, DT). Baseline gait velocity and stride length were less for those with PD and age-matched controls compared to young controls, and the ability of those with PD to use cues differed from the other groups. Gait velocity and stride length increased in PD with ATT, but not with auditory cues. Similar increases in gait velocity and stride length were observed with the combined cues, but additional benefit beyond ATT alone was not observed. Cues did not improve gait velocity during dual task walking, although stride length did increase with COMB+10. It appears persons with PD are able to benefit from attentional cueing and can combine attentional and auditory cues, but do not gain additional benefit from such a combination. During walking while performing a secondary cognitive task, attentional cues may help to facilitate a longer stride length.

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