Characterization of gait variability in multiple system atrophy and Parkinson’s disease

Victoria Sidoroff, Cecilia Raccagni*, Christine Kaindlstorfer, Sabine Eschlboeck, Alessandra Fanciulli, Roberta Granata, Björn Eskofier, Klaus Seppi, Werner Poewe, Johann Willeit, Stefan Kiechl, Philipp Mahlknecht, Heike Stockner, Kathrin Marini, Oliver Schorr, Gregorio Rungger, Jochen Klucken, Gregor Wenning, Heiko Gaßner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Gait impairment is a pivotal feature of parkinsonian syndromes and increased gait variability is associated with postural instability and a higher risk of falls. Objectives: We compared gait variability at different walking velocities between and within groups of patients with Parkinson-variant multiple system atrophy, idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, and a control group of older adults. Methods: Gait metrics were recorded in 11 multiple system atrophy, 12 Parkinson’s disease patients, and 18 controls using sensor-based gait analysis. Gait variability was analyzed for stride, swing and stance time, stride length and gait velocity. Values were compared between and within the groups at self-paced comfortable, fast and slow walking speed. Results: Multiple system atrophy patients displayed higher gait variability except for stride time at all velocities compared with controls, while Parkinson’s patients did not. Compared with Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy patients displayed higher variability of swing time, stride length and gait velocity at comfortable speed and at slow speed for swing and stance time, stride length and gait velocity (all P < 0.05). Stride time variability was significantly higher in slow compared to comfortable walking in patients with multiple system atrophy (P = 0.014). Variability parameters significantly correlated with the postural instability/gait difficulty subscore in both disease groups. Conversely, significant correlations between variability parameters and MDS-UPDRS III score was observed only for multiple system atrophy patients. Conclusion: This analysis suggests that gait variability parameters reflect the major axial impairment and postural instability displayed by multiple system atrophy patients compared with Parkinson’s disease patients and controls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1770-1779
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Gait analysis
  • Gait variability
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Wearable sensors


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