Mobility and balance in Parkinson’s disease: a population-based study


M. Matinolli, MD, Department of Neurology, University of Oulu, PO Box 5000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland (tel.: +358 50 524 4986; fax: +358 8 315 4544; e-mail:


Background and purpose:  To assess the clinical correlates of mobility and balance, and to identify the risk factors for falls in Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Methods:  One-hundred and nineteen PD patients underwent clinical examination and tests for mobility and balance using the Timed Up & Go (TUG) test, walking speed, and the measurement of postural sway.

Results:  The fallers (35% of the subjects) performed significantly worse in the TUG test than the non-fallers, and they also had a slower walking speed (= 0.037 and = 0.006, respectively). The total Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) score and age were positively associated with the TUG-test score. The severity of the disease and the use of walking aids correlated negatively with the walking speed, whereas the use of dopamine agonists was positively associated with the walking speed. The UPDRS total score [odds ratio (OR) 1.04, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.01–1.07] and increased postural sway (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.02–1.54) were independent risk factors for falling in PD.

Conclusion:  Advanced age and severity of the disease are related to impaired mobility and balance in PD patients. The severity of the disease and increased postural sway seem to be the most important independent risk factors for falling in PD.