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Visual sampling during walking in Parkinson’s disease: impact of visual cues and task complexity

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sam Stuart, Dr Brook Galna, Dr Susan Lord, Professor Lynn Rochester


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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder associated with walking disturbances such as slow, shuffling steps, freezing and falls. The mechanisms behind such impairments are incompletely understood, but likely involve visual and cognitive deficits which are common in PD. Visuo-cognitive deficits manifest during walking as an inability to maintain a straight trajectory, and difficultly negotiating varying terrain. This may predispose to walking disturbances and falls. Therapeutic interventions such as visual cues (e.g. coloured transverse taped lines or laser beams) are used in various settings to ameliorate the walking disturbances associated with PD. However, the underlying mechanisms of such interventions remain unknown, although attention is likely to be involved. This study describes the method used to examine visual sampling (i.e. the combination of fixations and saccades) in PD during walking under different conditions, and reports preliminary, descriptive results.Visual sampling (saccades and fixations) was measured via a Dikablis mobile eye-tracker in several PD and age-matched healthy controls during a series of walking tasks. Participants walked straight under three conditions; with and without a door, during single and dual task, with and without a visual cue in place. Outcome measures included saccade frequency and visual cue fixation duration.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stuart S, Galna B, Lord S, Rochester L

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 7th Annual NIHR Trainee meeting 2013

Year of Conference: 2013