A recent study has shown how a large percentage of people with Parkinson’s disease are unaware of some strategies to overcome problems when walking. “Gait disturbances are common and disabling. Clinical observations suggest that the efficacy of different compensation strategies varies according to individual patient characteristics and the context in which the strategies are applied,” the researchers explain in published research. in “Neurology ,” the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Parkinson’s disease is a pathology of the nervous system that progressively affects movement and symptoms appear gradually. However, the search for strategies to compensate for these movement limitations had not been systematically investigated, which made it difficult for professionals to provide a personalized approach to rehabilitation.
Evaluation of more than 4,000 people with Parkinson’s
To carry out the research, the team surveyed a total of 4,324 people with this disease and with walking difficulties. Balance problems, shuffling or staggering, among others. The researchers’ goal was threefold.
On the one hand, ” assess the awareness of patients and the actual use of compensation categories.” Second, to analyze the efficacy rated by the patient himself of different strategies and, finally, to explore the differences according to sex, age, frozen state or duration of the disease.
In this sense, the survey detailed the seven compensation strategies to check their knowledge by patients :
Internal indications: walk mentally counting, for example.
External prompts: walk to the beat of a metronome.
Change of balance: walk making larger turns.
Altered mental state: practice relaxation techniques.
Observation of action and motor images: observe how another person walks.
Adaptation of a new gait pattern: jumping,
Other ways to use your legs for movement: riding a bike.
The need for individualized treatments
After analyzing the responses, the researchers found that people with this disease typically use gait compensation strategies, but are not aware of all seven categories.
“17% of people had never heard of any of these strategies, and 23% had never tried any of them . Only 4% were aware of the seven categories of compensation strategies,” indicate the results collected by Infosalus.
“Our findings suggest that a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work because different contexts may require different strategies , or because individuals simply respond better to one strategy compared to another,” says Anouk Tosserams of Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen (Netherlands) and one of the authors of the study.
In such a way that the researchers suggest that it is necessary to go “one step further” and try to teach all possible strategies to patients, through platforms enabled for this purpose.