Walking, Talking Harder with Parkinson's

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 23 (UPI) — People with Parkinson’s disease are at increased risk for falls with injury because they have more trouble walking and talking, U.S. researchers say.

Leonard L. LaPointe and co-authors Julie A.G. Stierwalt and Charles G. Maitland of Florida State University find older adults with Parkinson’s altered their gait — stride length, step velocity and time spent stabilizing on two feet — when asked to perform increasingly difficult verbal tasks while walking.

However, older adults without the neurological impairment demonstrated similar difficulties walking and talking, the study authors say.

“These results suggest that it might be prudent for healthcare professionals and caregivers to alter expectations and monitor cognitive-linguistic demands placed on these individuals while they are walking, particularly during increased risk situations such as descending stairs, in low-light conditions or avoiding obstructions,” LaPointe says.

The study, scheduled to be published in the October issue of the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, suggests not asking an elderly person or someone with Parkinson’s to give directions or provide a thoughtful response to a complicated question while they are walking.

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