BACKGROUND: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by loss of dopaminergic nigrostriatal neurons. Several studies have investigated various physical interventions on PD. The effects of a high intensity exercise program with focus on resistance; cardio; equilibrium; and flexibility training have not been evaluated previously. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a complex, high intensity physical training program, with a long duration, on motor and non-motor symptoms in patients with PD. METHOD: 24 patients with PD Hoehn and Yahr stage 1-3 were non-randomly allocated to an intervention group (n = 12) and a control group (n = 12). The intervention group underwent 32 weeks of high intensity personalized physical training twice a week, with an optional extra training session once a week. The control group received general recommendations regarding physical activity. The primary outcomes were the change in Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale Subscores (UPDRS) and the Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire (PDQ-39). RESULTS: At week 32, the training significantly improved both UPDRS motor subscores (p = 0.045), activities of daily living subscores (ADL) (p = 0.006), mentation subscores (p = 0.004) and complication subscores (p = 0.019). The effect on the PDQ39 total score was not statistically significant. The intervention group however experienced a substantial improvement of the PDQ39 items emotional well-being (-11.0) and bodily discomfort (-7.14). CONCLUSION: The results suggest that a personal high intensity exercise program may favorably influence both motor and non-motor symptoms in patients with mild to moderate PD. More studies with both higher methodology in study design and a follow-up examination are recommended.
Neurorehabilitation, 2014, Vol 35, Issue 2, p. 291-8