Tags: parkinson | walk | beat | gait

Walking to a Beat May Ease Parkinson's

Tuesday, 25 Sep 2012 12:41 PM


Parkinson’s Disease patients who are trained to walk in time to a rhythmic beat may benefit significantly during treatment, according to a new study out of the University of Pittsburgh.
The Pitt study, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS One, suggests auditory cues can help in the rehabilitation of patients suffering from illnesses like Parkinson's – a brain disorder that leads to shaking (tremors) and difficulty walking.
Lead researcher Ervin Sejdic, an assistant professor of engineering in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering, and colleagues studied the effects of various mechanically produced beats on 14 adults, ages 18 to 30. Walkers participated in a series of 15-minute tests in which they walked with different cues.
In the first, participants walked at their own pace. Then, in subsequent trials, they were asked to walk to a metronomic beat, produced by visual, sounds, or touch.
"We found that the auditory cue had the greatest influence on human gait, while the visual cues had no significant effect whatsoever," said Sejdic. "This finding could be particularly helpful for patients with Parkinson's Disease, for example, as auditory cues work very well in their rehabilitation."
Sejdic said his team now plans to explore the impact of music on runners and walkers.


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