MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Jeffrey Hausdorff PhD
Director of the Center for the Study of Movement, Cognition and Mobility
Full Professor in the Sackler School of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience
Tel Aviv Medical Center
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Many people with Parkinson’s disease suffer from a disturbing symptom referred to as “freezing of gait”. When freezing occurs, the person’s feet inexplicably become stuck to the floor and he or she is unable to move forward, despite efforts to walk. Initially, the problem can last just a few seconds and occur very infrequently. As the problem progresses, however, freezing can last many seconds, occurring frequently throughout the day. This can lead to a very frustrating situation that may also be dangerous. People with freezing of gait have an increased risk of falls and reduced health-related quality of life.
The behavioral manifestation of freezing of gait is a problem with walking, i.e., it is a “motor” symptom. However, there is also evidence that deficits in specific aspects of cognitive function (i.e., executive function) may also contribute to freezing of gait. The goals of the present work were to use non-invasive brain stimulation to better understand if these cognitive deficits are indeed in the causal chain and if non-invasive brain stimulation that simultaneously targets both motor and cognitive brain areas that are believed to involved with freezing have a better impact on freezing and related symptoms than stimulation that targets only motor brain areas or sham stimulation.