The interaction of postural and voluntary strategies for stability in Parkinson's disease

Andrea C. de Lima-Pardini, Selma Papegaaij, Rajal G. Cohen, Luis A. Teixeira, Beth A. Smith, Fay B. Horak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This study assessed the effects of stability constraints of a voluntary task on postural responses to an external perturbation in subjects with Parkinson's disease (PD) and healthy elderly participants. Eleven PD subjects and twelve control subjects were perturbed with backward surface translations while standing and performing two versions of a voluntary task: holding a tray with a cylinder placed with the flat side down [low constraint (LC)] or with the rolling, round side down [high constraint (HC)]. Participants performed alternating blocks of LC and HC trials. PD participants accomplished the voluntary task as well as control subjects, showing slower tray velocity in the HC condition compared with the LC condition. However, the latency of postural responses was longer in the HC condition only for control subjects. Control subjects presented different patterns of hip-shoulder coordination as a function of task constraint, whereas PD subjects had a relatively invariant pattern. Initiating the experiment with the HC task led to 1) decreased postural stability in PD subjects only and 2) reduced peak hip flexion in control subjects only. These results suggest that PD impairs the capacity to adapt postural responses to constraints imposed by a voluntary task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1244-1252
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012


  • Initial condition
  • Postural control
  • Postural set

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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