Relationship between eye movements and freezing of gait during turning in individuals with Parkinson’s disease

Ying Wang, Marc M. van Wanrooij, Rowena Emaus, Jorik Nonneke, Michael X Cohen, Helena Cockx, Sabine Janssen, Rick C. Helmich, Richard van Wezel

Research output: Working paperProfessional

85 Downloads (Pure)


Background Individuals with Parkinson’s disease can experience freezing of gait: “a sudden, brief episode of an inability to move their feet despite the intention to walk”. Since turning is the most sensitive condition to provoke freezing-of-gait episodes, and the eyes typically lead turning, we hypothesize that disturbances in saccadic eye movements are related to freezing-of-gait episodes.

Objectives This study explores the relationship between freezing-of-gait episodes and saccadic eye movements for gaze shift and gaze stabilization during turning.

Methods We analyzed 277 freezing-of-gait episodes provoked among 17 individuals with Parkinson’s disease during two conditions: self-selected speed and rapid speed 180-degree turns in alternating directions. Eye movements acquired from electrooculography signals were characterized by the average position of gaze, the amplitude of gaze shifts, and the speed of gaze stabilization. We analyzed these variables before and during freezing-of-gait episodes occurring at the different phase angles of a turn.

Results Significant off-track changes of the gaze position were observed almost one 180-degree-turn time before freezing-of-gait episodes. In addition, the speed of gaze stabilization significantly decreased during freezing-of-gait episodes.

Conclusions We argue that off-track changes of the gaze position could be a predictor of freezing-of-gait episodes due to continued failure in movement-error correction or an insufficient preparation for eye-to-foot coordination during turning. The decline in the speed of gaze stabilization is large during freezing-of- gait episodes given the slowness or stop of body turning. We argue that this could be evidence for a healthy compensatory system in individuals with freezing-of-gait.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Relationship between eye movements and freezing of gait during turning in individuals with Parkinson’s disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this