Progressive nature of a higher level gait disorder: A 3-year prospective study

V. Huber-Mahlin, N. Giladi, T. Herman, C. Perez, T. Gurevich, J. M. Hausdorff

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The objective of the study was to characterize the natural history of patients with a higher level gait disorder (HLGD) of the cautious/disequilibrium type in a 3-year prospective study. Subjects were taken from an outpatient setting in a movement disorders clinic. Twenty-two mobile, community-living patients with a HLGD of the cautious/disequilibrium type and 26 age- and gender-matched healthy controls were evaluated at baseline and approximately 3 years later. Detailed medical history, a complete, structured geriatric and neurological examination, mental and affective state, gait and balance assessment were obtained. At follow-up, marked declines were observed in gait, mobility and functional independence in the patients, but not in the controls. For example, 23% of the patients could not complete the Timed Up and Go test, compared to only 4% of the control group, and among those who could complete the test, time to completion was almost three times longer (P < 0.0001) in the patients (23 s), compared to the controls (8 s). At follow-up, 50% of the patients required a personal live-in caregiver compared to only 4% of the controls (P < 0.0001). Although mild extra-pyramidal, pyramidal, cognitive and affective alterations were observed at baseline in the patients, those symptoms were stable over time. Unexpectedly, there was no association between the presence of HLGD or its progression and vascular risk factors. HLGD is a debilitating, rapidly progressive disease. The profound deterioration in functional independence in a relatively short period of time suggests that early multidisciplinary interventions may be the appropriate clinical approach to the treatment of these patients who are at risk for a rapid decline in functional abilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1279-1286
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Aging
  • Extra-pyramidal signs
  • Gait
  • High level gait disorder
  • Natural history


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