The Effect of taVNS at 25 Hz and 100 Hz on Parkinson’s Disease Gait-A Randomized Motion Sensor Study

Mov Disord. 2024 May 17. doi: 10.1002/mds.29826. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Transcutaneous electrostimulation of the auricular branch of the vagal nerve (taVNS) has the propensity to reach diffuse neuromodulatory networks, which are dysfunctional in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Previous studies support the use of taVNS as an add-on treatment for gait in PD.

OBJECTIVES: We assessed the effect of taVNS at 25 Hz (taVNS25), taVNS at 100 Hz (taVNS100), and sham earlobe stimulation (sVNS) on levodopa responsive (arm swing velocity, arm range of motion, stride length, gait speed) and non-responsive gait characteristics (arm range of motion asymmetry, anticipatory postural adjustment [APA] duration, APA first step duration, APA first step range of motion), and turns (first turn duration, double 360° turn duration, steps per turn) in advanced PD.

METHODS: In our double blind sham controlled within-subject randomized trial, we included 30 PD patients (modified Hoehn and Yahr stage, 2.5-4) to assess the effect of taVNS25, taVNS100, and sVNS on gait characteristics measured with inertial motion sensors during the instrumented stand and walk test and a double 360° turn. Separate generalized mixed models were built for each gait characteristic.

RESULTS: During taVNS100 compared to sVNS arm swing velocity (P = 0.030) and stride length increased (P = 0.027), and APA duration decreased (P = 0.050). During taVNS25 compared to sVNS stride length (P = 0.024) and gait speed (P = 0.021) increased and double 360° turn duration decreased (P = 0.039).

CONCLUSIONS: We have found that taVNS has a frequency specific propensity to improve stride length, arm swing velocity, and gait speed and double 360° turn duration in PD patients. © 2024 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

PMID:38757756 | DOI:10.1002/mds.29826