A protocol to examine vision and gait in Parkinson's disease: impact of cognition and response to visual cues

Samuel Stuart, Brook Galna, Sue Lord, Lynn Rochester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Background Cognitive and visual impairments are common in Parkinson's disease (PD) and contribute to gait deficit and falls. To date, cognition and vision in gait in PD have been assessed separately. Impact of both functions (which we term 'visuo-cognition') on gait however is likely interactive and can be tested using visual sampling (specifically saccadic eye movements) to provide an online behavioural measure of performance. Although experiments using static paradigms show saccadic impairment in PD, few studies have quantified visual sampling during dynamic motor tasks such as gait. This article describes a protocol developed for testing visuo-cognition during gait in order to examine the: 1) independent roles of cognition and vision in gait in PD, 2) interaction between both functions, and 3) role of visuo-cognition in gait in PD. Methods Two groups of older adults (≥50 years old) were recruited; non-demented people with PD (n=60) and age-matched controls (n=40). Participants attended one session and a sub-group (n=25) attended two further sessions in order to establish mobile eye-tracker reliability. Participants walked in a gait laboratory under different attentional (single and dual task), environmental (walk straight, through a door and turning), and cueing (no visual cues and visual cues) conditions. Visual sampling was recorded using synchronised mobile eye-tracker and electrooculography systems, and gait was measured using 3D motion analysis. Discussion This exploratory study examined visuo-cognitive processes and their impact on gait in PD. Improved understanding of the influence of cognitive and visual functions on visual sampling during gait and gait in PD will assist in development of interventions to improve gait and reduce falls risk. This study will also help establish robust mobile eye-tracking methods in older adults and people with PD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1379
Early online date30 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


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