Parkinson's – an issue of spatial perception?

Doorway, St. Andrews

In the most recent Medscape Medical News email, they presented an interesting research study on how freezing in Parkinson’s may not be a motor issue but rather a sensory-perceptual one (the article is copyrighted, so I can’t post it).

The study compared 15 patients with freezing, 16 with PD but no freezing, and 16 healthy controls and examined how doorway size affected gait – the narrower the door, the more gait variability, shorter steps, and wider BOS for those who experienced freezing, while those who did not were also affected in that they had a wider BOS.

They note that more study is needed as some studies also observed similar patterns (Exp Brain Res. 2003;149:187–194), whereas others found opposing data (Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2006;12:21–27).  One interesting idea they had was to use eye-tracking software to monitor gaze, and that it could either be a sensory issue (eyes aren’t analyzing the doorway correctly) or a cognitive problem with failing to perceive the door spatially (depth and width).

This study was published recently in J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry, and the lead investigator was Dr. Quincy Almeida.

Picture credit: Doorway, St. Andrews, originally uploaded by stevecadman.


3 responses to “Parkinson's – an issue of spatial perception?

  1. Thanks for this!

    A question: Can you say, please, what BOS means?

    BTW, I think with copyrighted sites it’s OK to publish a short excerpt or summary along with a link to the full text.

    Parkinson’s patient

  2. BOS means base-of-support, so in this study the patients were placing their feet farther apart to give them a larger area of support (the opposite would be walking on a line with one foot in front of the other). Unfortunately the copyright is pretty specific on their webpage, and there isn’t a way to provide a hyperlink without having to have you enter a user ID and password (otherwise I would).

  3. Thanks for the explanation of BOS and also for the info on the copyright!

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