Objective: To determine whether patients with Parkinson's disease who are enrolled in a resistance training program can gain strength similar to that of normal control subjects and whether these gains in strength would improve their gait function.
Design: Subjects included 14 patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease of either gender and six normal control subjects of similar age. The training consisted of an 8-wk course of resistance training twice per week, focused primarily on the lower limbs. The primary outcome measures consisted of exercise performance monitoring and quantitative gait analysis before and after the training course.
Results: Both the patients with Parkinson's disease and normal control subjects significantly increased their performance with resistance training. Subjects with Parkinson's disease had gains in strength similar to those of normal elderly adults. Patients with Parkinson's disease also had significant gains in stride length, walking velocity, and postural angles compared with pretreatment values.
Conclusions: Patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease can obtain increases in performance or strength similar to that of normal adults of the same age in a resistance training program. Resistance training can produce functional improvements in gait and may, therefore, be useful as part of a physical rehabilitation and/or health maintenance program for patients with Parkinson's disease.