Parkinson’s disease (PD) leads to impaired mobility and limited independence.
We investigated the effects of acupuncture on gait disturbance and analyzed hemodynamic changes caused by acupuncture in the cerebral cortex of patients with PD.
Participants (n = 26) with gait disturbance due to PD were randomly assigned to the intervention (acupuncture twice a week for 4 weeks + conventional therapy) or control (conventional therapy) groups. We analyzed gait parameters using the GAITRite system and hemodynamic responses in the cerebral cortices using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) scores, neurotransmitter levels, as well as the immediate effects of acupuncture in patients with PD.
The participants tended to walk with hypometric gait (high cadence, short steps) overground. After acupuncture treatment, those in the intervention group showed a significant reduction in cadence and the UPDRS scores involving “walking and balance” compared with those in the control group ( = .004 and = .020, respectively); the stride, swing, and single support times were significantly increased ( = .006, = .001, and = .001, respectively). Oxyhemoglobin levels in the intervention group while walking on a treadmill were significantly increased in the prefrontal and supplementary motor areas. The oxyhemoglobin levels in the prefrontal cortex and swing time revealed significant positive correlations.
Our findings indicated that acupuncture tended to improve hypometric gait and rearranged activation of the cerebral cortex. Thus, acupuncture may be a useful complementary treatment for gait disturbance, including hypometric gait, in patients with PD. . Clinical Research Information Service (KCT0002603), https://cris.nih.go.kr/cris/index.jsp.