Trunk-lower limb coordination pattern during gait in patients with ataxia

Pietro Caliandro, Chiara Iacovelli, Carmela Conte, Chiara Simbolotti, Paolo M Rossini, Luca Padua, Carlo Casali, Francesco Pierelli, Giuseppe Reale, Mariano Serrao
Gait & Posture 2017, 57: 252-257

OBJECTIVE: Although deficit of coordination between the upper and lower body segments might play an important role in impairing gait and stability in ataxic patients, this deficit has not been investigated in subjects with ataxia so far. To evaluate the coordination between trunk and thigh in a sample of patients with ataxia compared with healthy controls and to correlate the coordination measures with the clinical severity.

DESIGN: Prospective observational study.

SUBJECTS: Sixteen patients with degenerative cerebellar ataxia and sixteen age- and sex-matched controls were studied.

METHODS: We assessed the coordination on the sagittal plane between trunk and thigh, considered as rigid segments, by the continuous relative phase (CRP) method. We used the coefficient of multiple correlation (CMC) to measure the within-subject (CMCWS ) variability, and the SARA scale to assess clinical severity.

RESULTS: CRP curves are dissimilar between ataxic patients and controls, the former showing a chaotic behavior compared to the well-shaped CRP curves observed in the latter. Trunk-thigh coordination has a higher within-subject variability in ataxic patients (median CMCWS : 0.53 for patients, 0.89 for controls, p<0.001). We also found that the CMCWS of the CRP curves negatively correlates with the gait (ρ: -0.565, p: 0.023) and stance (ρ: -0.567, p: 0.022) sub-scores and the total score of the SARA scale (ρ: -0.711, p: 0.002).

CONCLUSIONS: Ataxia shows a deficit of spatio-temporal coordination between trunk and thigh. Such a deficit is correlated with the degree of the clinical impairment indicating an important role of inter-segmental coordination in determining the severity of ataxia.

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