November 1, 2014

Studies Show Short-Term Clinical Benefits in Patients with Parkinson Disease who Participate in Physical Therapy

Even with the best medications and treatments patients diagnosed with Parkinson Disease experience a gradual decline in physical function and mobility. Because of this, many patients end up decreasing their daily activity, which could make matters worse. There has been evidence that suggests physical training could be beneficial, at least short-term in helping Parkinson patients retain some of their mobility.

In 39 randomized controlled trials that involved more than 1800 patients they compared patients with no intervention to those undergoing PT. Most patients in the PT group demonstrated a significantly faster walking speed and longer distance walked in 2 or 6 minutes. There were also significant improvements in timed up-and-go tests, functional reach tests, Berg Balance Scale, and freezing-of-gait questionnaire scores. In addition, PT was associated with fewer falls.

Academy of Neurology guideline lists PT as an “alternative” therapy for PD (Neurology 2006; 66:976), and regards the benefit from PT as small and non-sustainable after cessation. However, the trials show some good benefits and some patients could benefit greatly from long-term from PT.

Tomlinson CL et al. Physiotherapy intervention in Parkinson’s disease: Systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2012 Aug 6; 345:e5004. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e5004) Published in Journal Watch General Medicine August 28, 2012

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