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The efficacy of external sensory stimuli on gait parameters in persons with Parkinson’s disease

1 May 1997


1. Clinical Bottom Line: Based on our critical appraisal of this topic, we recommend the use of external sensory cues to improve gait parameters in persons with Parkinson’s disease (PD). More specifically, we would utilize temporal cues to positively impact temporal gait parameters and spatial cues to improve spatial gait parameters. However, these treatments cannot be assumed to have lasting effects as most studies lack a long-term follow-up (greater than three months), thus warranting further research.

2. Clinical Scenario: A patient with PD approached us regarding the most effective external sensory cue to improve his shuffling gait. When researching on the internet, he found many methods for sensory cueing to improve gait such as using visual, auditory and tactile cues. He has questions regarding which is most appropriate for his current limitations. After a thorough physical therapy evaluation, we found this patient’s gait to be consistent with the typical presentation of PD: shortened stride length, decreased velocity and increased cadence. We decided to do a literature review to assist us in making the best clinical decision regarding which type of external sensory cue is most effective in addressing the gait deficits found in people with Parkinson’s disease.

3. Our clinically answerable question

Population: The population is patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease and without other inclusion criteria such as: severity or duration of symptoms, use of medication or absence of co-morbidity.

Intervention: We wish to determine the efficacy of external sensory stimuli on the parameters of gait.

Comparison: Our comparison group is a control group who will not receive any external sensory stimuli.

Outcome: We will look at both spatial (stride/step length) and temporal (initiation, velocity, cadence) variables of gait.


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