Mechanisms of postural instability in hereditary spastic paraplegia
SourceJournal of Neurology, 260, 9, (2013), pp. 2387-2395
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of Neurology
SubjectDCN MP - Plasticity and memory; DCN MP - Plasticity and memory NCEBP 10: Human Movement & Fatigue; NCEBP 10: Human Movement & Fatigue DCN PAC - Perception action and control
Hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) is characterized by progressive lower extremity spasticity and weakness, due to retrograde axonal degeneration of the corticospinal tract and posterior spinal columns. HSP patients fall frequently. We hypothesized that delayed postural responses contribute to their balance impairments. To distinguish between a delay in afferent and efferent signals, we combined postural responses with a startling acoustic stimulus (SAS). The SAS triggers a postural response directly, bypassing afferent proprioceptive input. We performed two experiments. First, 18 HSP patients and nine healthy controls stood on a balance platform and were instructed to counteract forward and backward balance perturbations, without taking a step or grabbing a handrail. Second, 12 HSP patients and nine controls received backward perturbations, while a SAS accompanied onset of platform motion in 25 % of trials. HSP patients were less successful than controls in maintaining balance following backward and forward perturbations. Furthermore, latencies of postural responses were significantly delayed in HSP-patients, by 34 ms in gastrocnemius following forward, and by 38 ms in tibialis anterior following backward perturbations. A SAS accelerated postural responses in all participants, but more so in HSP patients whose latencies were normalized. Our results suggest that delayed postural responses in HSP patients contribute to their balance problems. Combining balance perturbations with a SAS restored normal latencies, suggesting that conduction of efferent signals (presumably by the reticulospinal tract) is normal. We therefore suggest that the delayed postural responses in HSP are caused by slowed conduction time via the posterior spinal columns.
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