Gait impairment -- difficulty walking -- is arguably among the most disabling symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD), as safe walking is critical for maintaining independence and quality of life. Many research studies have have been conducted to measure walking ability in PD, albeit with limited success. Questions remain as to the quality of the studies as well as normal changes in gait, how gait is affected by drugs and how it changes over time. We aim to answer these questions by creating a common platform for studying gait changes in PD.
Currently, there is no standard measure of walking. We hypothesize that by analyzing a large set of gait features with several methods, we will be able to identify a minimum set of measures to be used uniformly in clinics and beyond.
We will assemble a large database of gait data collected at seven clinical sites to provide a platform for evaluating sensitivity of measures, frequency of gait assessments needed to detect changes and uniform collection features. This will allow us to answer many of the questions described above.
Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson's Disease:
Gait evaluation is useful in identifying early signs of Parkinson's and assessing disease progression. Thus, it holds promise as a PD biomarker, i.e., objective measure of disease.
Next Steps for Development:
The current study will move the field forward by establishing a common language for assessment of gait and mobility in Parkinson's, refine collected measures to improve diagnosis and disease monitoring and serve as a platform for The Michael J. Fox Foundation in future research endeavors. Based on this work, future studies could be designed to explain how gait changes in PD, including in response to treatment.