About this Research Topic
Gait disturbances represent one of the most disabling symptoms in movement disorders, especially for parkinsonian patients and their caregivers. In particular, freezing of gait is a peculiar gait derangement characterized by a sudden and episodic inability to produce effective stepping, causing falls, mobility restrictions, poor quality of life, and increased morbidity and mortality with high economic burden. Freezing of gait represents an enigmatic phenomenon and it is the focus of basic and clinical research due to incomplete pathophysiological understanding and therapeutically-limited options.
In recent years, advances in neurophysiology have led to a reinterpretation of some neurological symptoms as primarily disorders of circuit function (“circuitopathies”), which could be treated using personalized approaches targeting specific neurophysiological markers. In this regard, freezing of gait may represent an interesting paradigm to study transient derangement of locomotor network dynamics. More generally, new research that unravels gait-specific circuitry dysfunctioning in Parkinson's disease and other neurological disorders is warranted to increase our understanding of the locomotor network and its derangement for new and more effective personalized treatments.
This Research Topic, The Neural Control of Locomotion: Current Knowledge and Future Research, has three core aims. The first assembles different methodological approaches for gait assessment; the technical pros and cons of biomechanic, neurophysiological, imaging and clinical research strategies in the animal and human literature will be discussed in light of the potential development of new translational, methodological studies. The second aim will address research methods that illustrate complementary hypotheses on the pathophysiology of the locomotor network derangements in animal models and humans. Each anatomical hub (e.g., pedunculopontine, cuneiform nucleus, locus coeruleus, etc.) and circuitry (e.g., spinal pattern generators) will be reviewed, and its contribution to the locomotor network discussed in the context of specific gait disorders. The last aim is to bridge pathophysiological insights with actual and new therapeutic concepts, starting with state-of-the-art therapeutic medical concepts, new translational approaches using deep brain stimulation and rehabilitative motor learning strategies will be presented.
This Research Topic offers the opportunity to narrows the gap between basic neuroscience translated to therapeutic neurophysiological and rehabilitative concepts for the further understanding and treatment of gait disorders.
The following Article Types are encouraged: Original Research, Review, Brief Research Report, Mini Review, Perspective.
Keywords: gait analyses methods, pathophysiology of gait disorders, therapeutic advances, freezing of gait, parkinsonism
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