Freezing in Parkinson’s – Beyond motor impairment?

Freezing is a common motor symptom of people with Parkinson’s Disease, where one is suddenly unable to move, or initiate a step. It usually happens when walking through a doorway, walking in a narrow confined space, or in a crowded situation.

From a recent Insight 2020 webinar, Dr Shaikh (2020) explained that freezing in Parkinson’s is not just due to motor impairment but is a multisystem affair which also involves Visual and Spatial perceptual impairment in Parkinson’s. Action and perception are closely linked together when performing a task. When there is an unbalance between the action and perception, or a disruption in perception, it can lead to action problem, such as freezing of gait.

Visual perception impairment in Parkinson’s

  • Binocular misalignment, which is the misalignment of the eyes positions, is quite common in Parkinson’s. It can cause poor depth perception, poor convergence ability and double vision
  • Impaired microsaccade movement rate of the eyes, which is a fast eye movement during visual scanning. People with Parkinson’s are found to have increased microsaccade movements or the eyes. They have decreased coordination of saccade movements.
  • Abnormal perception of motion. People with Parkinson’s have decreased ability to perceive their own movements.

It is possible that visual and perceptual impairment play a part in the gait abnormality of Parkinson’s. Treatment towards perceptual non-motor function, such as exercises or Deep Brain Stimulation, may be helpful to improve gait abnormalities.

My Rehab Team Physiotherapists are able to help people with Parkinson’s Disease to improve their functions and mobility. Contact us on 1300 469 734 or for more information.

Shaikh A. (Producer). (2020). Freezing of gait- Why and how [Video webinar]. Retrieved from