Objective: To investigate whether body weight-supported treadmill training (BWSTT) is of long-term benefit for patients with Parkinson's disease (PD).
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Inpatient rehabilitation unit for neurologic diseases in Japan.
Participants: Twenty-four patients (Hoehn and Yahr stages 2.5 or 3) who were not demented (Mini-Mental State Examination score, >27).
Interventions: Patients were randomized to receive either a 45-minute session of BWSTT (up to 20% of body weight supported) or conventional physical therapy (PT) for 3 days a week for 1 month.
Main outcome measures: Outcome measures were evaluated at baseline and at 1, 2, 3, and 6 months. Measures included the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), ambulation speed (s/10 m), and number of steps taken for a 10-m walk as a parameter for stride length.
Results: Four patients needed modification of medications in the follow-up period. Twenty patients (BWSTT, n=11; PT, n=9) without modified medications were analyzed for functional outcome. Age, duration of PD, gender, and doses of medications were comparable. There was no difference in the baseline UPDRS (BWSTT=33.3; PT=32.6), speed (BWSTT=10.8; PT=11.5), and steps (BWSTT=23.4; PT=22.8). The BWSTT group had significantly greater improvement than the PT group (Mann-Whitney U test, Bonferroni adjustment for multiple comparison) in ambulation speed at 1 month (BWSTT=8.5; PT=10.8; P<.005); and in the number of steps at 1 (BWSTT=20.0; PT=22.7; P<.005), 2 (BWSTT=19.5; PT=22.4; P<.005), 3 (BWSTT=20.1; PT=23.1; P<.005), and 4 months (BWSTT=21.0; PT=23.0; P=.006).
Conclusions: BWSTT has a lasting effect specifically on short-step gait in PD.
Copyright 2002 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation