Freezing of gait: promising avenues for future treatment

Moran Gilat, Ana Lígia Silva de Lima, Bastiaan R. Bloem, James M. Shine, Jorik Nonnekes, Simon J. G. Lewis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Freezing of gait is a devastating symptom of Parkinson's disease and other forms of parkinsonism. It poses a major burden on both patients and their families, as freezing often leads to falls, fall-related injuries and a loss of independence. Treating freezing of gait is difficult for a variety of reasons: it has a paroxysmal and unpredictable nature; a multifaceted pathophysiology, with an interplay between motor elements (disturbed stepping mechanisms) and non-motor elements (cognitive decline, anxiety); and a complex (and likely heterogeneous) underlying neural substrate, involving multiple failing neural networks. In recent years, advances in translational neuroscience have offered new insights into the pathophysiology underlying freezing. Furthermore, the mechanisms behind the effectiveness of available treatments (or lack thereof) are better understood. Driven by these concepts, researchers and clinicians have begun to improve currently available treatment options, and develop new and better treatment methods. Here, we evaluate the range of pharmacological (i.e. closed-looped approaches), surgical (i.e. multi-target and adaptive deep brain and spinal cord stimulation) and behavioural (i.e. biofeedback and cueing on demand) treatment options that are under development, and propose novel avenues that are likely to play a crucial role in the clinical management of freezing of gait in the near future. The outcomes of this review suggest that the successful future management of freezing of gait will require individualized treatments that can be implemented in an on-demand manner in response to imminent freezing. With this review we hope to guide much-needed advances in treating this devastating symptom of Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Freezing of Gait
  • Innovation
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Technology
  • Treatments


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