Freezing of Gait in People with Parkinson’s Disease: Nature, Occurrence, and Risk Factors

Stephen R Lord, Helen Bindels, Mira Ketheeswaran, Matthew A Brodie, Andrew D Lawrence, Jacqueline C T Close, Alan L Whone, Yoav Ben-Shlomo, Emily J Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Freezing of gait (FOG) is a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease (PD) which can result in falls and fall related injuries, poor quality of life and reduced functional independence. It is a heterogeneous phenomenon that is difficult to quantify and eludes a unified pathophysiological framework.

Objective: Our aim was to document the occurrence and nature of freezing, cognitive stops and stumbles in people with PD during walks with varying cognitive loads and conditions designed to elicit FOG.

Methods: 130 people with PD walked under four conditions (normal walking, walking plus easy and hard dual-tasks, and a FOG elicitation condition. Video and accelerometry recordings were examined to document freezes and other gait disruptions.

Results: Participants experienced 391 freezes, 97 cognitive stops and 73 stumbles in the trial walks; with total gait disruptions increasing with task complexity. Most freezes in the FOG elicitation condition occurred during turning and approach destination. People who experienced freezing during the walks were more likely to have Postural Instability and Gait Difficulty (PIGD) subtype, longer disease duration and more severe UPDRS part II and part III sub-scores than people who did not freeze. They also took higher doses of levodopa, reported freezing in the past month, more prior falls, had poorer executive function, poorer proprioception, slower reaction time, poorer standing and leaning balance, more depressive symptoms, lower quality of life and greater fear of falling. PD disease duration, reduced controlled leaning balance and poor proprioception were identified as independent and significant determinants of freezing in logistic regression analysis.

Conclusion: The multiple motor and cognitive factors identified as being associated with freezing, including poor proprioception and impaired controlled leaning balance provide new insights into this debilitating PD symptom and may contribute to potential new targets for rehabilitation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Parkinson's Disease
Early online date27 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2020

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Population Health Science Institute
  • Ageing and Movement Research Group


  • Parkinson’s disease
  • gait disorders
  • freezing of gait
  • dual task

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