Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Anke Snijders (Donders Series 90)

4 June 2012

Promotor: Prof dr B.R.Bloem, Copromotor: Prof dr I.Toni

Tackling freezing of gait in Parkinson’s disease

Freezing of gait is a common and invalidating symptom of Parkinson’s disease. To recognise and treat freezing of gait, it is necessary to provoke the symptom in clinic or in a research environment. We found rapid axial turns to be the most effective way to provoke freezing of gait. On a treadmill, freezing can be elicited by obstacles suddenly falling on the treadmill. During cycling – in contrast to walking – freezing is hardly present. Furthermore we discovered that freezing is accompanied by a combination of two problems in the brain. In the cortex, there is a problem in the area that is involved in selecting the right movements. In addition, there are changes in a specific area in the brainstem, where walking movements are adapted. Further research is needed to investigate whether these areas can be used as a new target for brain stimulation to treat freezing of gait.