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Postural dynamics are associated with cognitive decline in Parkinson's disease

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Annette PantallORCiD, Professor Alison Yarnall, Dr Silvia Del DinORCiD, Professor Lynn RochesterORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Early features of Parkinson’s disease (PD) include both motor and cognitive changes, suggesting shared common pathways. A common motor dysfunction is postural instability, a known predictor of falls, which have a major impact on quality of life. Understanding mechanisms of postural dynamics in PD and specifically how they relate to cognitive changes is essential for developing effective interventions. The aims of this study were to examine the changes that occur in postural metrics over time and explore the relationship between postural and cognitive dysfunction. The study group consisted of 35 people (66 ± 8years, 12 female, UPDRS III: 22.5 ± 9.6) diagnosed with PD who were recruited as part of the Incidence of Cognitive Impairment in Cohorts with Longitudinal Evaluation – PD Gait (ICICLE-GAIT) study. Postural and cognitive assessments were performed at 18 months, 36 months and 54 months after enrolment. Participants stood still for 120 s, eyes open and arms by their side. Postural dynamics were measured using metrics derived from a single tri-axial accelerometer (Axivity AX3, York, UK) on the lower back. Accelerometry metrics included jerk (derivative of acceleration), root mean square, frequency and ellipsis (acceleration area). Cognition was evaluated by neuropsychological tests including the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and digit span. There was a significant decrease in accelerometry parameters, greater in the anteroposterior direction, and a decline in cognitive function over time. Accelerometry metrics were positively correlated with lower cognitive function and increased geriatric depression score and negatively associated with a qualitative measure of balance confidence. In conclusion, people with PD showed reduced postural dynamics that may represent a postural safety strategy. Associations with cognitive function and depression, both symptoms that may pre-empt motor symptoms, suggest shared neural pathways. Further studies, involving neuroimaging, may determine how these postural parameters relate to underlying neural and clinical correlates.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pantall A, Suresparan P, Kapa L, Morris R, Yarnall A, Del Din S, Rochester L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Neurology

Year: 2018

Volume: 9

Online publication date: 05/12/2018

Acceptance date: 19/11/2018

Date deposited: 22/11/2018

ISSN (electronic): 1664-2295

Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation


DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2018.01044


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Funder referenceFunder name
J-0802Parkinson`s UK (formerly Parkinson`s Disease Society)