Parkinson’s disease refers to a complex neurodegenerative disease which is characterised by progressive gait impairments and postural disparities that significantly affect an individual’s quality of life.
The secondary complications associated with the disorder require treatment strategies that are multidisciplinary in nature with the inclusion of multiple functional orthoses that are designed to provide the patient with a greater degree of mobility and independence.
Nemanich et al. explored the gait patterns of 78 individuals with Parkinson’s disease to better understand its relationship to falls which occur in roughly 40-70 percent of individuals with the disorder.
For this purpose, the authors studied gait speed of the recruited patients and distinguished between self-selected gait speed and fast-as-possible gait speed; the authors aimed to find out if a third gait speed (the difference between the two) could be a better discriminator between fallers and non-fallers.
While all three gait speeds were found to be strongly related to falling in people with Parkinson’s disease, the male population was observed to increase their gait speed from self-selected to fast-as-possible more than women.
Based on these findings, the study concluded that gait speeds can be considered as reliable predictors or identifiers of falls, with the difference between self-selected and fast-as-possible gait speeds serving as a more informative measure in men than in women.
This necessitates the use of gait speed for screenings in preventative care programmes to predict future falls in patients with the disease and to prevent the devastating consequences of such an impact on the individual.
Among the different therapies recommended, Cruickshank et al. found that strength training was useful for improving muscle strength in patients with mild-to-moderate disability, leading to a favourable effect on multiple aspects of mobility in Parkinson’s disease.
Rehabilitative strategies need to focus on improving muscular strength and addressing postural disparities in order to prevent limitations in mobility and to help the patient remain ambulatory for as long as possible.
MASS4D® foot orthotics can be used to augment treatment efforts by providing the correct balance of a resistant force to allow optimal muscle function throughout the functional range of motion and promote healthy gait patterns in the patient.
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