Differential gait adaptation patterns in Parkinson’s disease – a split belt treadmill pilot study

Meir Plotnik, Evyatar Arad, Adam Grinberg*, Moran Salomon, Yotam Bahat, Sharon Hassin-Baer, Gabi Zeilig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Interventions using split belt treadmills (SBTM) aim to improve gait symmetry (GA) in Parkinson's disease (PD). Comparative effects in conjugated SBTM conditions were not studied systematically despite potentially affecting intervention outcomes. We compared gait adaptation effects instigated by SBTM walking with respect to the type (increased\decreased speed) and the side (more/less affected) of the manipulated belt in PD. Methods: Eight individuals with PD performed four trials of SBTM walking, each consisted of baseline tied belt configuration, followed by split belt setting – either WS or BS belt's speed increased or decreased by 50% from baseline, and final tied belt configuration. Based on the disease's motor symptoms, a 'worst' side (WS) and a 'best' side (BS) were defined for each participant. Results: SB initial change in GA was significant regardless of condition (p ≤ 0.02). This change was however more pronounced for BS-decrease compared with its matching condition WS-increase (p = 0.016). Similarly, the same was observed for WS-decrease compared to BS-increase (p = 0.013). Upon returning to tied belt condition, both BS-decrease and WS-increased resulted in a significant change in GA (p = 0.04). Upper limb asymmetry followed a similar trend of GA reversal, although non-significant. Conclusions: Stronger effects on GA were obtained by decreasing the BS belt’s speed of the best side, rather than increasing the speed of the worst side. Albeit a small sample size, which limits the generalisability of these results, we propose that future clinical studies would benefit from considering such methodological planning of SBTM intervention, for maximising of intervention outcomes. Larger samples may reveal arm swinging asymmetries alterations to match SBTM adaptation patterns. Finally, further research is warranted to study post-adaption effects in order to define optimal adaptation schemes to maximise the therapeutic effect of SBTM based interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number279
JournalBMC Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Arm swing
  • Asymmetry
  • Gait pattern
  • Kinematics
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • SBTM


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