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Postural reactions to neck vibration in Parkinson's disease



To test the hypothesis that reduced reactions to proprioceptive input signals contribute to postural instability in Parkinson's disease (PD), pulses of mechanical vibration were applied to the neck muscles of PD patients and healthy controls. This stimulus elicits postural reactions in standing subjects. Participating were 13 moderately affected PD patients, 13 severely affected PD patients, and 13 age-matched healthy subjects. Patients were tested on and off medication. Three-second-long pulses of vibration were regularly (10 times) applied to the posterior neck muscles while subjects kept their eyes open or closed. Postural responses to the stimuli were measured by static posturography. No intergroup difference in the pattern and latencies of responses was found. However, the amplitudes of the postural reactions (shift of center of foot pressure) were significantly larger in advanced PD patients; those of moderately affected PD patients did not differ from those of control subjects. Moreover, the size of postural responses in both latter groups decreased across the trial contrary to that of advanced PD patients. Comparison of the measures during on and off testing revealed no significant differences. These results indicate that neither afferent proprioceptive deficits nor central integrative functions but rather scaling and habituation of erroneous proprioceptive information are disturbed in the postural control of advanced PD. Nondopaminergic structures seem to be responsible for this impairment. © 2005 Movement Disorder Society