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  • Writer's pictureEngage PT, OT, SLP Therapy and Wellness

Festinating Gait: It is a run away train

Updated: May 12, 2023

runaway train

Do you ever feel your walking is turning into a runaway train? This is a common symptom in Parkinson's Disease where your steps get shorter and shorter and quicker. 32% of those with PD have reported gait festination in the past month. This walking pattern attributes to falls and imbalance. The exact reason why people have gait festination is not known but these episodes can occur during "off" times of medication, times of stress and when trying to do 2 or more things at once.

As with any motor or non motor symptom associated with Parkinson's Disease it is helpful to discuss this with your neurologist and develop specific strategies with your physical or occupational therapist. Performing therapy combining movement and cognitive tasks can be beneficial to work on developing effective strategies.

To stop your run away train try the 3 Ss:

1. Stop. When your feet are going quickly your trunk is typically leaning forward and it is hard for your feet to catch up. By stopping your walking, you are giving a chance to regroup.

2. Stand tall. This is an important step as when your body weight is over your legs you are better able to take big steps and get more movement in your trunk which helps with balance.

3. Step big. When you are taking a step you will lead with your heel.

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