Predictors of gait speeds and the relationship of gait speeds to falls in men and women with Parkinson disease.
Gait difficulties and falls are commonly reported in people with Parkinson disease (PD). Reduction in gait speed is a major characteristic of Parkinsonian gait, yet little is known about its underlying determinants, its ability to reflect an internal reservation about walking, or its relationship to falls. To study these issues, we selected age, disease severity, and nonmotor factors (i.e., depression, quality of life, balance confidence, and exercise beliefs and attitudes) to predict self-selected (SELF), fast-as-possible (FAST), and the difference (DIFF) between these walking speeds in 78 individuals with PD. We also examined gender differences in gait speeds and evaluated how gait speeds were related to a retrospective fall report. Age, disease severity, and balance confidence were strong predictors of SELF, FAST, and, to a lesser extent, DIFF. All three parameters were strongly associated with falling. DIFF was significantly greater in men compared to women and was significantly associated with male but not female fallers. The results supported the clinical utility of using a suite of gait speed parameters to provide insight into the gait difficulties and differentiating between fallers in people with PD.