Characteristics of ataxic gait in familial dysautonomia patients

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© 2018 Portnoy et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Introduction and objectives Progressive ataxic gait is a common symptom in individuals with Familial Dysautonomia (FD). At least 50% of adults with FD require assistance with walking. Our aims were to describe the medical condition of individuals with FD (ii) compare their gait characteristics to healthy individuals, and (iii) assess correlations between gait measures, presence of unstable gait pattern and frequency of falls. Methods Twelve subjects with FD (7 males, age 25.3±10.6 years) and 16 healthy participants (6 males, age 35.9±11.9 years) were recruited. Gait kinematics, gait symmetry, dynamic muscle activity, and foot deep vibration sensation were recorded. Results Ataxic gait degrees were: severe (6 out of 12), moderate (4 out of 12) and low (2 out of 12). The number of falls correlated with base width asymmetry. Crouch gait was noted in 3 out of 12 of the subjects. Conclusions In-depth quantitative gait analysis of individuals with FD revealed ataxic gait. The ataxic pattern might be a result of combined neurological deficiencies and osseous deformities. Increasing the base of support of patients with FD might increase the symmetry of the base width during gait and decrease the number of falls. Additionally, perturbation treatment and dynamic balance exercises may be recommended in order to improve compensatory strategies. Future investigation of this population should include quantification of osseous rotations of the lower limb in order to fully understand its effect on their gait pattern and falls.




Portnoy, S., Maayan, C., Tsenter, J., Ofran, Y., Goldman, V., Hiller, N., … Schwartz, I. (2018). Characteristics of ataxic gait in familial dysautonomia patients. PLoS ONE, 13(4).

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