Impact of Falls on Physical Activity in People with Parkinson's Disease

J Parkinsons Dis. 2016;6(1):175-82. doi: 10.3233/JPD-150640.


Background: A complex relationship exists between motor impairment, physical activity (sedentary behavior, standing and ambulatory activity) and falls in people with Parkinson's disease (PD).

Objective: To explore associations between recent fall history and the ability to retain an active lifestyle as determined by the volume, pattern and variability of physical activity in people with PD.

Methods: Forty-eight participants with PD were recruited from the Norwegian ParkWest study. Body posture and ambulatory activity were monitored objectively over 7 days using the activPAL3 accelerometer. Clinical assessments included the Hoehn and Yahr stage, Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale motor section and Falls Efficacy Scale-International. Structured interviews were performed to obtain information about demographics, fall history last 6 months, mobility and dementia.

Results: Participants with a fall history (n = 20) spent more time sedentary and less time standing than non-falling participants (n = 28). There were no significant differences regarding pattern or variability of sedentary behavior, standing or ambulatory activity in falling versus non-falling participants. Confidence in being able to get up from floor contributed significantly to time spent in sedentary behavior and ambulatory activity in participants with fall history, whereas motor impairment was significantly associated with time spent in all facets of physical activity for non-falling participants.

Conclusions: Fall history in our PD cohort was associated with a more sedentary lifestyle, but not less ambulatory activity. More emphasis on improving the capacity to safely complete activities of daily living and increase confidence in getting up from floor may reduce sedentary behavior in people with PD.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; accelerometer; ambulation; falls; physical activity; sedentary behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Accidental Falls* / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sedentary Behavior*