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Gauging Gait Disorders with a Method Inspired by Motor Control Theories: A Pilot Study in Friedreich's Ataxia

It has been found that instrumented gait analysis can provide information associated with a patient's performance and help to remedy the shortcomings of the currently available outcome measures. The goal of this methodological article is to set the background and justify a new outcome measure inspired by the motor control theories to analyze gait using spatiotemporal parameters. The method is applied in a population of individuals living with Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA), a neurodegenerative disease. The sample population consisted of 19 subjects, 11 to 65 years of age with FRDA, who either ambulated independently, with a cane, or with a rollator. Three scores based on the distance from healthy normative data were used: Organization Score, Variability Score, and an overall measurement, the Global Ambulation Score. The scores were then compared to the Scale for Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA) Gait Score (SARA-GS), a clinical scale currently being used for gait analysis in FRDA. Organization Scores demonstrated a longitudinal deterioration in the gait characteristics from independent ambulators to those who ambulated with a rollator. Variability Scores mostly reflected dynamic instability, which became greater as the requirement of an ambulation aid or the switch from a cane to a rollator was imminent. The global value given by the Global Ambulation Score, which takes into consideration both the Organization Score, the Variability Score, and the level of assistive device, demonstrated a logarithmic relationship with the SARA-GS. Overall, these results highlight that both components introduced should be analyzed concurrently and suggest that the Global Ambulation Score may be a valuable outcome measure for longitudinal disease progression.

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