Impact of physical exercise on reaction time in patients with Parkinson's disease-data from the Berlin BIG Study

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 May;95(5):996-9. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2013.10.020. Epub 2013 Nov 11.


Objective: To determine whether physical activity may affect cognitive performance in patients with Parkinson's disease by measuring reaction times in patients participating in the Berlin BIG study.

Design: Randomized controlled trial, rater-blinded.

Setting: Ambulatory care.

Participants: Patients with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease (N=60) were randomly allocated to 3 treatment arms. Outcome was measured at the termination of training and at follow-up 16 weeks after baseline in 58 patients (completers).

Interventions: Patients received 16 hours of individual Lee Silverman Voice Treatment-BIG training (BIG; duration of treatment, 4wk), 16 hours of group training with Nordic Walking (WALK; duration of treatment, 8wk), or nonsupervised domestic exercise (HOME; duration of instruction, 1hr).

Main outcome measures: Cued reaction time (cRT) and noncued reaction time (nRT).

Results: Differences between treatment groups in improvement in reaction times from baseline to intermediate and baseline to follow-up assessments were observed for cRT but not for nRT. Pairwise t test comparisons revealed differences in change in cRT at both measurements between BIG and HOME groups (intermediate: -52ms; 95% confidence interval [CI], -84/-20; P=.002; follow-up: 55ms; CI, -105/-6; P=.030) and between WALK and HOME groups (intermediate: -61ms; CI, -120/-2; P=.042; follow-up: -78ms; CI, -136/-20; P=.010). There was no difference between BIG and WALK groups (intermediate: 9ms; CI, -49/67; P=.742; follow-up: 23ms; CI, -27/72; P=.361).

Conclusion: Supervised physical exercise with Lee Silverman Voice Treatment-BIG or Nordic Walking is associated with improvement in cognitive aspects of movement preparation.

Keywords: Exercise; Parkinson's disease; Reaction times; Rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Berlin
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking / physiology*