Effects of levodopa on forward and backward gait patterns in persons with Parkinson's disease

M. S. Bryant, D. H. Rintala, J. G. Hou, Eugene C. Lai, E. J. Protas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Introduction: Backward walking is difficult for persons with Parkinson's disease (PD). It is unknown how levodopa influences backward gait patterns, especially when compared to forward gait patterns. Purpose: Investigate the effects of levodopa on forward and backward gait patterns in individuals with PD. Design: A repeated measures design was used. Methods: The sample consisted of 21 individuals with PD (15 males, 6 females). Their mean age was 70.24 ± 8.69 yr. The average time since diagnosis was 11.81 ± 5.49 years. The median of the Hoehn and Yahr stage while 'ON' medication was 2.57. Gait patterns during forward and backward walking at a self-selected comfortable speed were recorded before and after taking levodopa on the same day. Results: Levodopa significantly increased gait speed and stride length and decreased the percent of the gait cycle (%GC) spent in double support. Gait speed and stride length were greater and the %GC spent in double support was less during forward walking compared with backward walking. Cadence was not changed by levodopa or walking direction. Conclusions: Levodopa improved gait characteristics during backward walking in a manner similar to that during forward walking in persons with PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-252
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011


  • backward walking
  • forward walking
  • gait
  • levodopa
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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