The increased awareness of the importance of gait and postural control to quality of life and functional independence has led many research groups to study the pathophysiology, epidemiology, clinical, and therapeutic aspects of these motor functions. In recognition of the increased awareness of the significance of this topic, the Movement Disorders journal is devoting this entire issue to gait and postural control. Leading research groups provide critical reviews of the current knowledge and propose future directions for this evolving field.
The intensive work in this area throughout the world has created an urgent need for a unified language. Because gait and postural disturbances are so common, the clinical classification should be clear, straightforward, and simple to use. As an introduction to this special issue, we propose a new clinically based classification scheme that is organized according to the dominant observed disturbance, while taking into account the results of a basic neurological exam. The proposed classification differentiates between continuous and episodic gait disturbances because this subdivision has important ramifications from the functional, prognostic, and mechanistic perspectives.
We anticipate that research into gait and postural control will continue to flourish over the next decade as the search for new ways of promoting mobility and independence aims to keep up with the exponentially growing population of aging older adults. Hopefully, this new classification scheme and the articles focusing on gait and postural control in this special issue of the Movement Disorders journal will help to facilitate future investigations in this exciting, rapidly growing area. © 2013 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society