Article Title



C. Garbuz, I. DeSzily, L. Wehrman, M. Edwards, C. Wutzke

Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA

(Award Winner)

People with Parkinson’s disease (PD) often experience impaired motor (i.e. balance) function that limits community engagement. Commonly, assessment of motor function includes only forward movement, despite difficulty changing directions and lateral stability. Additionally, non-motor impairment including executive function (i.e. memory, concentration) is associated with PD. Impaired executive function is exacerbated when completing dynamic balance tasks such as walking in people with PD. Improved understanding of the association between motor and non-motor function is important for maintaining quality of life for people with PD. PURPOSE: To determine the influence of executive function on movement function during a novel movement task in people with PD and unimpaired adults. METHODS: Unimpaired young adults (YA), unimpaired older adults (OA) and people with PD completed non-motor tests including the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and Trail Making test. Participants also completed a novel walking task (Walking Trail Making Test, WTMT) that included 12 floor targets arranged to replicate the Trail Making Test. Participants started at target 1 then navigated to target 2, tapping on each target with their foot to activate the next target. MoCA score and time to complete TMT were recorded as well as time to complete the WTMT and average velocity between targets. Data analysis was conducted using one-way ANOVA to identify differences between groups with an alpha value p< 0.05. Correlational analysis was conducted to determine associations between motor and non-motor tasks. RESULTS: Time to complete the WTMT differed between groups (YA:34.8 ± 5.73sec, PD:43.2 ± 11.1sec, OA:48.5 ± 9.93sec; p=0.024). A negative association between MoCA score and time to complete the WTMT (r =-0.63, p=0.001) was found for all participants. Differences in average velocity between pods were found between YA and older adults (PD and OA). CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with lower MoCA score required more time to complete the WTMT. Differences in walking velocity between groups suggest older adults (PD and OA) required more time to identify and process target location in addition to walking to targets. Future research should investigate the use of the WTMT to maintain or enhance executive function in people with PD.

Supported by McKinstry Fellows Research Program.

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