Authors: Justin Daniels, Abigail Schmitt, Chris Hass
Faculty Mentor: Chris Hass
College: College of Health and Human Performance
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes motor complications including tremor, bradykinesia, and gait dysfunction. Comorbidities of PD can exacerbate motor symptoms. Recent evidence suggests that osteoarthritis (OA) may be the most prevalent comorbidity associated with PD. OA is an inflammatory condition characterized by joint deterioration that also results in walking deficits. Yet the combined impact of OA and PD on walking is unknown. Twelve participants (average age 72±4 years, 10 males) walked comfortably across an 8m walkway while data were collected using three-dimensional motion capture and analyzed for spatiotemporal parameters of gait. Each participant received bilateral knee x-rays to determine presence and severity/grade of osteoarthritis. Participants with PD and evidence of OA exhibited decreased gait speed (1.06m/s vs. 1.19m/s), decreased cadence (109.8 steps/min vs. 119.8 steps/min), and increased time spent in double support (23.9% vs. 20.1%) when compared to those with PD alone. Conversely, participants with PD and OA had similar step lengths (0.56m vs 0.58m) as those with PD alone. These findings suggest the need for thorough screening for OA in patients with PD, as the overlapping symptoms from these coexisting conditions may lead to less effective treatment outcomes if the OA is left untreated.