Local Stability of the Trunk in Patients with Degenerative Cerebellar Ataxia During Walking

Giorgia Chini, Alberto Ranavolo, Francesco Draicchio, Carlo Casali, Carmela Conte, Giovanni Martino, Luca Leonardi, Luca Padua, Gianluca Coppola, Francesco Pierelli, Mariano Serrao
Cerebellum 2017, 16 (1): 26-33
This study aims to evaluate trunk local stability in a group of patients with degenerative primary cerebellar ataxia and to correlate it with spatio-temporal parameters, clinical variables, and history of falls. Sixteen patients affected by degenerative cerebellar ataxia and 16 gender- and age-matched healthy adults were studied by means of an inertial sensor to measure trunk kinematics and spatio-temporal parameters during over-ground walking. Trunk local dynamic stability was quantified by the maximum Lyapunov exponent with short data series of the acceleration data. According to this index, low values indicate more stable trunk dynamics, while high values denote less stable trunk dynamics. Disease severity was assessed by means of International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale (ICARS) according to which higher values correspond to more severe disease, while lower values correspond to less severe disease.Patients displayed a higher short-term maximum Lyapunov exponent than controls in all three spatial planes, which was correlated with the age, onset of the disease, and history of falls. Furthermore, the maximum Lyapunov exponent was negatively correlated with ICARS balance, ICARS posture, and ICARS total scores.These findings indicate that trunk local stability during gait is lower in patients with cerebellar degenerative ataxia than that in healthy controls and that this may increase the risk of falls. Local dynamic stability of the trunk seems to be an important aspect in patients with ataxia and could be a useful tool in the evaluation of rehabilitative and pharmacological treatment outcomes.

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