Freezing of gait (FoG) is a disabling symptom of Parkinson’s Disease, characterised by patients becoming stuck while walking and unable to move forward. It is well-known to lead to falls and lower quality of life, making it an important target for treatment.

Research has linked FoG to aspects of attention and cognitive control. Patients with Parkinson’s Disease who self-reported FoG and who were free from dementia were randomly allocated to receive either a cognitive training intervention or an active control.

65 patients were randomised into the study. 20 patients were randomly assigned to the cognitive training intervention and 18 were randomised to the active control group. Both groups were clinician-led and conducted twice-weekly for seven weeks. The primary outcome was the percentage of time spent frozen during a ‘Timed Up and Go’ task, assessed while patients were both on and off
dopaminergic medications.

A large and statistically significant reduction in FoG severity was shown in patients in the cognitive training group on dopaminergic medication, compared to participants in the active control group on dopaminergic medication. Patients who received cognitive training also showed improved cognitive processing speed and reduced daytime sleepiness compared to those in the active control while accounting for the effect of dopaminergic medication. There was no difference between groups when they were tested without their regular dopaminergic medication. More studies using larger samples are needed to investigate this initial finding that cognitive training can reduce the severity of freezing of gait in Parkinson’s diseases patients.

Paper: “Cognitive training for freezing of gait in Parkinson’s Disease: a randomised controlled trial”

Reprinted by materials provided by The University of Sydney