Background: Postural instability is one of most disabling motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease. Indices of multi-muscle synergies are new measurements of movement and postural stability. Objectives: Multi-muscle synergies stabilizing vertical posture were studied in Parkinson's disease patients without clinical symptoms of postural instability (Hoehn-Yahr ≤ II) and age-matched controls. We tested the hypothesis that both synergy indices during quiet standing and synergy adjustments to self-triggered postural perturbations would be reduced in patients. Methods: Eleven Parkinson's disease patients and 11 controls performed whole-body tasks while standing. Surface electromyography was used to quantify synergy indices stabilizing center of pressure shifts in the anterior-posterior direction during a load-release task. Results: Parkinson's disease patients showed a significantly lower percentage of variance in the muscle activation space accounted for by the first four principal components, significantly reduced synergy indices during steady state, and significantly reduced anticipatory synergy adjustments (a drop in the synergy index prior to the self-triggered unloading). Conclusions: The study demonstrates for the first time that impaired synergic control in Parkinson's disease can be quantified in postural tasks, even in patients without clinical manifestations of postural instability. Synergy measurements may provide a biomarker sensitive for early problems with postural stability in Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-215
Number of pages7
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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