The effect of dividing attention between walking and auxiliary tasks in people with Parkinson's disease

Pamela Fok, Michael Farrell, Joan McMeeken

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15 Citations (Scopus)


This controlled study examined the effects of dividing attention between walking and the performance of a secondary cognitive task in people with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease (Hoehn and Yahr stages 2-3.5). Participants in the training group (n= 6) received 30. min divided attention training in taking big steps while simultaneously performing serial three subtractions. Participants in the control group (n= 6) received no training. Stride length, gait velocity and accurate enumeration rate were measured at baseline, immediate after training and 30. min after training under single-task (walk only or subtract only) and dual-task (walk and subtract) conditions. Data were also collected at training in the training group. Immediate improvement in stride length and gait velocity was found when instruction was given to participants to pay equal attention to gait and subtractions (p= 0.001, p= 0.05) compared to baseline. Short-term improvement in the gait variables was also found after training when compared to the controls (p= 0.001, p= 0.001). Nevertheless, there was no significant difference in the accurate enumeration rate. Based on the findings, we conclude that divided attention can be used as a strategy to improve slow and short-stepped gait under dual-task conditions. Divided attention can also be used in gait training for short term stride length and gait velocity improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-246
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Movement Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Disability management
  • Divided attention
  • Neurological disorders and Brain damage
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Walking

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