OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of body weight-supported progressive high-intensity locomotor training in Parkinson's disease (PD) on (1) clinical status; (2) quality of life; and (3) gait capacity. DESIGN: Open-label, fixed sequence crossover study. SETTING: University motor control laboratory. PARTICIPANTS: Patients (N=13) with idiopathic PD (Hoehn and Yahr stage 2 or 3) and stable medication use. INTERVENTIONS: Patients completed an 8-week (3 × 1h/wk) training program on a lower-body positive-pressure treadmill. Body weight support was used to facilitate increased intensity and motor challenges during treadmill training. The training program contained combinations of (1) running and walking intervals, (2) the use of sudden changes (eg, in body weight support and speed), (3) different types of locomotion (eg, chassé, skipping, and jumps), and (4) sprints at 50 percent body weight. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The Movement Disorders Society-Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS), Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire-39 items (PDQ-39), and the six-minute walk test were conducted 8 weeks before and pre- and posttraining. RESULTS: At the end of training, statistically significant improvements were found in all outcome measures compared with the control period. Total MDS-UPDRS score changed from (mean ± 1SD) 58±18 to 47±18, MDS-UPDRS motor part score changed from 35±10 to 29±12, PDQ-39 summary index score changed from 22±13 to 13±12, and the six-minute walking distance changed from 576±93 to 637±90m. CONCLUSIONS: Body weight-supported progressive high-intensity locomotor training is feasible and well tolerated by patients with PD. The training improved clinical status, quality of life, and gait capacity significantly.
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2013, Vol 94, Issue 4, p. 687-692