Background: Reduced muscle strength is an independent risk factor for falls and related to postural instability in individuals with Parkinson's disease. The ability of resistance training to improve postural control still remains unclear.
Objective: To compare resistance training with balance training to improve postural control in people with Parkinson's disease.
Methods: 40 patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (Hoehn&Yahr: 2.5-3.0) were randomly assigned into resistance or balance training (2x/week for 7 weeks). Assessments were performed at baseline, 8- and 12-weeks follow-up: primary outcome: Fullerton Advanced Balance (FAB) scale; secondary outcomes: center of mass analysis during surface perturbations, Timed-up-and-go-test, Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale, Clinical Global Impression, gait analysis, maximal isometric leg strength, PDQ-39, Beck Depression Inventory. Clinical tests were videotaped and analysed by a second rater, blind to group allocation and assessment time.
Results: 32 participants (resistance training: n = 17, balance training: n = 15; 8 drop-outs) were analyzed at 8-weeks follow-up. No significant difference was found in the FAB scale when comparing the effects of the two training types (p = 0.14; effect size (Cohen's d) = -0.59). Participants from the resistance training group, but not from the balance training group significantly improved on the FAB scale (resistance training: +2.4 points, Cohen's d = -0.46; balance training: +0.3 points, Cohen's d = -0.08). Within the resistance training group, improvements of the FAB scale were significantly correlated with improvements of rate of force development and stride time variability. No significant differences were found in the secondary outcome measures when comparing the training effects of both training types.
Conclusions: The difference between resistance and balance training to improve postural control in people with Parkinson's disease was small and not significant with this sample size. There was weak evidence that freely coordinated resistance training might be more effective than balance training. Our results indicate a relationship between the enhancement of rate of force development and the improvement of postural control.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov ID: NCT02253563.