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Impaired Economy of Gait and Decreased Six-Minute Walk Distance in Parkinson's Disease

DOI: 10.1155/2012/241754

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Changes in the biomechanics of gait may alter the energy requirements of walking in Parkinson's Disease (PD). This study investigated economy of gait during submaximal treadmill walking in 79 subjects with mild to moderate PD and the relationship between gait economy and 6-minute walk distance (6?MW). Oxygen consumption (VO2) at the self-selected treadmill walking speed averaged 64% of peak oxygen consumption (VO2 peak). Submaximal VO2 levels exceeded 70% of VO2 peak in 30% of the subjects. Overall the mean submaximal VO2 was 51% higher than VO2 levels expected for the speed and grade consistent with severe impairment in economy of gait. There was an inverse relationship between economy of gait and 6MW ( , ) and with the self-selected walking speed ( , ). Thus, the impairment in economy of gait and decreased physiologic reserve result in routine walking being performed at a high percentage of VO2 peak. 1. Introduction Walking capacity is central to the performance of many activities of daily living. Difficulty with walking is one of the cardinal symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Alterations in the biomechanics of gait, such as decreased stride length, increased stride length variability, and reduced gait speed, are common even in early stages of PD [1–3]. Most often, PD patients attempt to compensate for short steps by increasing gait cadence, thereby potentially altering energy requirements. This higher energy cost of movement is often referred to as a lower economy of gait and is a function of abnormal gait patterns that accompany aging and neurological disability. Reduced economy of gait has been associated with impaired function and fatigue in non-PD populations [4–9], but there is currently scant information on how parkinsonian gait affects energy expenditure or economy of gait using direct measures of oxygen consumption [10]. Further, little is known about the relationship between economy of gait and mobility. Hence, the purpose of this study was to investigate economy of gait during submaximal treadmill walking in mild to moderate PD, and the relationship between economy of gait and the distance covered during the 6-minute walk (6?MW). 2. Methods 2.1. Subjects Participants for this study were recruited from the University of Maryland Parkinson’s Disease Center and the Baltimore VA Medical Center neurology clinics as part of an exercise intervention trial in PD [11]. Inclusion criteria were (1) diagnosis of levodopa-responsive PD characterized by 2 of 3 cardinal signs (resting tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity), (2) Hoehn and Yahr (HY) [12] stage

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