Evaluating freezing of gait (FOG) and quantifying its severity in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is challenging; objective assessment is not sufficiently established. We aimed to improve the ability to objectively evaluate FOG severity by investigating the value of measuring the duration of the test and its components. Seventy-one patients with PD and FOG completed a previously validated FOG-provoking test. The test was performed under three conditions: (1) usual, single task; (2) dual task (walking while carrying a tray); and (3) triple task (walking while holding a tray and subtracting 7 s). FOG and festination were scored using standard procedures. We evaluated effect sizes based on both the original scoring and the test duration for the motor–cognitive cost and before and after anti-Parkinsonian medication intake. Additionally, video recording of the test and total time frozen were measured. As expected, the original test score and the test duration increased across the three conditions of the task and were higher in OFF than in the ON-medication state (p < 0.036). For motor–cognitive cost, higher effect sizes were observed for the test duration of each condition, compared to the original scoring in OFF state (0.85 vs. 0.68, respectively). Change in effect size category was more pronounced in the ON state vs. OFF (0.87 vs. 0.55, respectively). Test duration was the only independent predictor for the self-report of FOG severity and the total time frozen during the test. These findings suggest that quantifying the duration of each condition of the FOG-provoking test improves its sensitivity to medications and task complexity. Timing can be used to provide immediate, objective feedback of freezing severity, and a clear interpretation of a patient’s performance.
- Parkinson’s disease