Turning impairments are common in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and can elicit freezing of gait (FoG). Extensive examination of open-loop cueing interventions has demonstrated that they can ameliorate gait deficits in PD; less is known about efficacy to improve turning. Here, we investigate the immediate effectiveness of open- and closed-loop cueing in improving turning characteristics in people with PD. Twenty-five subjects with and 18 subjects without FoG participated in the study. Subjects turned in place for one minute under single- and dual-task for 3 randomized conditions: (i) Baseline; (ii) Turning to the beat of a metronome (open-loop); and (iii) Turning with phase-dependent tactile biofeedback (closed-loop). Objective measures of freezing, such as % time spent freezing and FoG-ratio, significantly improved when turning with both open-loop and closed-loop cueing compared to baseline. Dual-tasking did not worsen FoG in freezers, but significantly slowed down turns in both groups. Both cueing modalities significantly improved turning smoothness in both groups, but reduced turning velocity and number of turns compared to baseline. Both open and closed-loop cueing markedly improved turning in people with PD. These preliminary observations warrant further exploration of vibrotactile closed-loop cueing to improve mobility in everyday life.
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