Arm swing responsiveness to dopaminergic medication in Parkinson’s disease depends on task complexity
The evidence of the responsiveness of dopaminergic medication on gait in patients with Parkinson’s disease is contradicting. This could be due to differences in complexity of the context gait was in performed. This study analysed the effect of dopaminergic medication on arm swing, an important movement during walking, in different contexts. Forty-five patients with Parkinson’s disease were measured when walking at preferred speed, fast speed, and dual-tasking conditions in both OFF and ON medication states. At preferred, and even more at fast speed, arm swing improved with medication. However, during dual-tasking, there were only small or even negative effects of medication on arm swing. Assuming that dual-task walking most closely reflects real-life situations, the results suggest that the effect of dopaminergic medication on mobility-relevant movements, such as arm swing, might be small in everyday conditions. This should motivate further studies to look at medication effects on mobility in Parkinson’s disease, as it could have highly relevant implications for Parkinson’s disease treatment and counselling.