Effect of different music genres on gait patterns in Parkinson’s disease


The timing and size of repetitive, internally generated, automatic sequences of movements are particularly affected in Parkinson’s disease. The most evident consequence of this deficit is the alteration of gait patterns, with a loss of rhythmicity, shorter steps, slower walking, and trunk instability. Several studies have highlighted a potential benefit of listening to music on the normalization of walking patterns. However, most of these studies investigated the effect of a single specific music. We hypothesized that different musical genres may induce different modifications of spatiotemporal parameters and trunk oscillations during walking. In this study, we enrolled healthy young subjects, healthy elderly, and patients with Parkinson’s disease. They were asked to walk listening, by a wireless headset, one of six different music tracks (related to four different musical genres) while wearing an inertial measurement unit at pelvis level used to assess their walking patterns. The main effect of music tracks resulted statistically significant in all the gait parameters (p < 0.05), but for symmetry of lower trunk movements. This effect was independent by group. The only significant interaction between music and group, in fact, was found for pelvis obliquity range of motion (p = 0.019). Post hoc analyses showed as classical music reduced speed and trunk tilting (p < 0.01), whereas the range of pelvic obliquity movements in frontal plane were increased by rock, motivational, and heavy metal songs (p < 0.015). In conclusion, the gait patterns were altered by listening music depending by the musical genre, and these adaptations occurred similarly among the three groups, including patients with Parkinson’s disease.

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We thank Castellucci R., Cianti E., Pollio S., and Lupo A. for having helped in the data collection. We also thank the Italian Society of Neurological rehabilitation (SIRN) for the BTS-SIRN 2018 prize for the best scientific work on the theme of Neurological Rehabilitation that allowed us to use the G-Walk in this study.


This study was funded by the Italian Ministry of Health, Line D of Current Research of IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, project: “Golden gait: pattern frattali nel movimento umano, valutazione e riabilitazione nei soggetti con danni cerebrali e cerebellari.”

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Correspondence to M. Iosa.

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Independent Local Ethical Committee of Santa Lucia Foundation approved the study and all the participants signed the informed consent.

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De Bartolo, D., Morone, G., Giordani, G. et al. Effect of different music genres on gait patterns in Parkinson’s disease. Neurol Sci 41, 575–582 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10072-019-04127-4

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  • Walking
  • Music
  • Gait
  • Locomotion
  • Dual task
  • Music therapy