A Randomized Controlled Trial to Reduce Falls in People With Parkinson's Disease

Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2015 Sep;29(8):777-85. doi: 10.1177/1545968314565511. Epub 2015 Jan 7.


Background: Falls are common and disabling in people with Parkinson's disease (PD). There is a need to quantify the effects of movement rehabilitation on falls in PD.

Objective: To evaluate 2 physical therapy interventions in reducing falls in PD.

Methods: We randomized 210 people with PD to 3 groups: progressive resistance strength training coupled with falls prevention education, movement strategy training combined with falls prevention education, and life-skills information (control). All received 8 weeks of out-patient therapy once per week and a structured home program. The primary end point was the falls rate, recorded prospectively over a 12 month period, starting from the completion of the intervention. Secondary outcomes were walking speed, disability, and quality of life.

Results: A total of 1547 falls were reported for the trial. The falls rate was higher in the control group compared with the groups that received strength training or strategy training. There were 193 falls for the progressive resistance strength training group, 441 for the movement strategy group and 913 for the control group. The strength training group had 84.9% fewer falls than controls (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 0.151, 95% CI 0.071-0.322, P < .001). The movement strategy training group had 61.5% fewer falls than controls (IRR = 0.385, 95% CI 0.184-0.808, P = .012). Disability scores improved in the intervention groups following therapy while deteriorating in the control group.

Conclusions: Rehabilitation combining falls prevention education with strength training or movement strategy training reduces the rate of falls in people with mild to moderately severe PD and is feasible.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; falls prevention; movement strategy training; physical therapy; progressive resistance strength training.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology
  • Parkinson Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking / physiology