Taking regular walks when living with Parkinson’s disease has beneficial effects on movement and quality of life. Yet, patients usually show reduced physical activity compared to healthy older adults. Using auditory stimulation such as music can facilitate walking but patients vary significantly in their response. An individualized approach adapting musical tempo to patients’ gait cadence, and capitalizing on these individual differences, is likely to provide a rewarding experience, increasing motivation for walk-in PD. We aim to evaluate the observance, safety, tolerance, usability, and enjoyment of a new smartphone application. It was coupled with wearable sensors and delivered individualized musical stimulation for gait auto-rehabilitation at home. Forty-five patients with PD underwent a 1-month, outdoor, uncontrolled gait rehabilitation program, using the BeatWalk application. The music tempo was being aligned in real-time to patients’ gait cadence in a way that could foster an increase up to +10% of their spontaneous cadence. Open-label evaluation was based on BeatWalk use measures, questionnaires, and a six-minute walk test. Patients used the application 78.8% of the prescribed duration and enjoyed it throughout the program. The application was considered “easy to use” by 75% of the patients. Pain, fatigue, and falls did not increase. Fear of falling decreased and quality of life improved. After the program, patients improved their gait parameters in the six-minute walk test without musical stimulation. BeatWalk is an easy to use, safe, and enjoyable musical application for individualized gait rehabilitation in PD. It increases “walk for exercise” duration thanks to high observance.Clinical Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT02647242.
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DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.655121
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