Explaining freezing of gait in Parkinson's disease: Motor and cognitive determinants§


  • Funding agencies: Support for this study was provided by a grant from the Research Council of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (contract no.: OT / 07 / 074) and the Flanders Fund for Scientific Research (project no.: G0691.08).

  • Relevant conflicts of interest/financial disclosures: W.V. is a senior clinical investigator of the Research Foundation–Flanders (F.W.O.). H.D. is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation–Flanders.

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    Full financial disclosures and author roles may be found in the online version of this article.


Freezing of gait (FOG) is part of a complex clinical picture in Parkinson's disease (PD) and is largely refractory to standard care. Diverging hypotheses exist about its origins, but a consolidated view on what determines FOG is lacking. The aim of this study was to develop an integrative model of FOG in people with PD. This cross-sectional study included 51 Parkinson subjects: 24 patients without FOG and 27 with FOG matched for age, gender, and disease severity. Subjects underwent an extensive clinical test battery evaluating general disease characteristics, gait and balance, nongait freezing, and cognitive functions. The relative contribution of these outcomes to FOG was determined using logistic regression analysis. The combination of the following four independent contributors provided the best explanatory model of FOG (R2 = 0.49): nongait freezing; levodopa equivalent dose (LED); cognitive impairment; and falls and balance problems. The model yields a high-risk profile for FOG (P > 95%) when Parkinson patients are affected by at least one type of nongait freezing (e.g., freezing of other repetitive movements), falls or balance problems during the last 3 months, and a Scales for Outcomes in Parkinson's Disease-Cognition score below 28. A high LED further increases the risk of FOG to 99%. Nongait freezing, increased dopaminergic drug dose, cognitive deficits, and falls and balance problems are independent determinants of FOG in people with PD and may play a synergistic role in its manifestation. © 2012 Movement Disorder Society