In this randomized controlled study we analyse and compare the acute and chronic effects of visual and acoustic cues on gait performance in Parkinson's Disease (PD). We enrolled 46 patients with idiopathic PD who were assigned to 3 different modalities of gait training: (1) use of acoustic cues, (2) use of visual cues, or (3) overground training without cues. All patients were tested with kinematic analysis of gait at baseline (T0), at the end of the 4-week rehabilitation programme (T1), and 3 months later (T2). Regarding the acute effect, acoustic cues increased stride length and stride duration, while visual cues reduced the number of strides and normalized the stride/stance distribution but also reduced gait speed. As regards the chronic effect of cues, we recorded an improvement in some gait parameters in all 3 groups of patients: all 3 types of training improved gait speed; visual cues also normalized the stance/swing ratio, acoustic cues reduced the number of strides and increased stride length, and overground training improved stride length. The changes were not retained at T2 in any of the experimental groups. Our findings support and characterize the usefulness of cueing strategies in the rehabilitation of gait in PD.
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