University of Oulu

Balance, mobility and falls in Parkinson’s disease

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Author: Matinolli, Maarit1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Neurology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.3 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: 2009
Publish Date: 2009-09-29
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Oulu for public defence in Auditorium 8 of Oulu University Hospital, on 9 October 2009, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Docent Mikko Kuoppamäki
Docent Eero Pekkonen


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive neurodegenerative disease which is characterized by resting tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability. Advanced PD is often complicated by falls, immobilisation and progressive deterioration of overall physical capability that may jointly contribute to a reduced quality of life and even to increased mortality.

The purpose of this study was to identify risk factors for falls and mortality in PD, to assess the clinical correlates of balance and mobility, and to evaluate the association between orthostatic hypotension (OH), balance and mobility. From a total population of approximately 205 000 inhabitants, 125 patients with idiopathic PD were included in the study. Baseline medical data including occurrence of recent falls were collected, and patients were clinically tested for balance, mobility and orthostatic blood pressure reactions. Falls were thereafter prospectively recorded for two years using fall diaries and follow-up calls. Mortality was documented by reviewing the hospital charts four years after the baseline examination.

In the cross-sectional part of the study, one-third of the patients reported recent falling. Disease duration and severity, recent falling and use of a walking aid were predictors of increased postural sway in PD. Advanced age and severity of the disease were related to impaired balance and mobility in PD patients. Severity of the disease and increased postural sway were independent risk factors for recent falling in PD, whereas measures of mobility were less important in this manner.

Fifty-three percent of the patients had OH in the orthostatic test. Patients with OH had significantly increased postural sway in standing compared to patients without OH. On the contrary, OH was not associated with mobility and walking speed. In the present data, OH was not associated with the risk of falling in PD.

Sixty-three percent of the study patients experienced falls and almost half of the subjects fell recurrently during the two-year follow-up. History of falling and disease severity indicated increased risk of recurrent falls in PD, while patients with slow walking speed had an increased risk of mortality. The results show that balance impairment and falls are common features in PD. Slow walking speed may be associated with increased mortality in PD.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 978-951-42-9233-0
ISBN Print: 978-951-42-9232-3
Issue: 1027
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2009. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.