Gait dynamics in Parkinson's disease: Short gait trials "Stitched" together provide different fractal fluctuations compared to longer trials

Vivien Marmelat, Nicholas R. Reynolds, Amy Hellman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The fractal analysis of stride-to-stride fluctuations in walking has become an integral part of human gait research. Fractal analysis of stride time intervals can provide insights into locomotor function and dysfunction, but its application requires a large number of strides, which can be difficult to collect from people with movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease. It has recently been suggested that "stitching" together short gait trials to create a longer time series could be a solution. The objective of this study was to determine if scaling exponents from "stitched" stride time series were similar to those from continuous, longer stride time series. Fifteen young adults, fourteen older adults, and thirteen people with Parkinson's disease walked around an indoor track in three blocks: one time 15 min, five times 3 min, and thirty times 30 s. Stride time intervals were determined from gait events recorded with instrumented insoles, and the detrended fluctuation analysis was applied to each stride time series of 512 strides. There was no statistically significant difference between scaling exponents in the three blocks, but intra-class correlation revealed very low between-blocks reliability of scaling exponents. This result challenges the premise that the stitching procedure could provide reliable information about gait dynamics, as it suggests that fractal analysis of stitched time series does not capture the same dynamics as gait recorded continuously. The stitching procedure cannot be considered as a valid alternative to the collection of continuous, long trials. Further studies are recommended to determine if the application of fractal analysis is limited by its own methodological considerations (i.e., long time series), or if other solutions exists to obtain reliable scaling exponents in populations with movement disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number861
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberJUL
StatePublished - Jul 9 2018


  • Detrended fluctuation analysis
  • Gait analysis
  • Gait variability
  • Nonlinear dynamics
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Scaling exponent
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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