Effects of Instruction on Walking and Turning Performance in Individuals with Parkinson's Disease
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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by postural instability and gait impairment. Verbal instructions can reduce postural sway and improve gait performance in PD. For gait, this evidence is limited to unobstructed straight-path walking. As falls in PD often occur when turning, the purpose of this thesis was to determine if instructions can benefit turning performance in this population. Twelve individuals with PD performed two walking tasks (normal walking, walking with a 180 degree turn) under four instruction conditions (no instruction, take big steps, make larger trunk movements, focus on end and/or turn point). Task duration and trunk yaw and roll sway were calculated. In general, the results demonstrated that the instruction to take big steps improved performance for both tasks compared to providing no instruction or externally based instruction. These results suggest that instructions related to step amplitude may facilitate walking and turning performance in PD.