Physical Activity and Exercise Outcomes in Huntington Disease (PACE-HD): Protocol for a 12-Month Trial Within Cohort Evaluation of a Physical Activity Intervention in People With Huntington Disease

Phys Ther. 2019 Sep 1;99(9):1201-1210. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzz075.


Background: Exercise is emerging as an important aspect in the management of disease-related symptoms and functional decline in people with Huntington disease (HD). Long-term evaluation of physical activity and exercise participation in HD has yet to be undertaken.

Objective: The objective is to investigate the feasibility of a nested randomized controlled trial (RCT) alongside a longitudinal observational study of physical activity and exercise outcomes in people with HD.

Design: This will be a 12-month longitudinal observational study (n = 120) with a nested evaluation of a physical activity intervention (n = 30) compared with usual activity (n = 30) using a "trial within a cohort" design.

Setting: The study will take place in HD specialist clinics in Germany, Spain, and the United States, with intervention delivery in community settings.

Participants: The participants will have early-mid-stage HD and be participating in the Enroll-HD study.

Intervention: This will be a 12-month physical activity behavioral change intervention, delivered by physical therapists in 18 sessions, targeting uptake of aerobic exercise and increased physical activity.

Measurements: All participants (n = 120) will complete Enroll-HD assessments (motor, cognitive, behavioral, and quality of life) at baseline and at 12 months. Additional Physical ACtivity and Exercise Outcomes in Huntington Disease (PACE-HD) assessments include fitness (predicted maximal oxygen uptake [V o2max]), self-reported and quantitative measures of physical activity, disease-specific symptoms, and walking endurance. RCT participants (n = 60) will complete an additional battery of quantitative motor assessments and a 6-month interim assessment. Enroll-HD data will be linked to PACE-HD physical activity and fitness data.

Limitations: The limitations include that the embedded RCT is open, and assessors at RCT sites are not blinded to participant allocation.

Conclusion: PACE-HD will enable determination of the feasibility of long-term physical activity interventions in people with HD. The novel "trial within a cohort" design and incorporation of data linkage have potential to reduce participant burden. This design could be applied to other neurological diseases and movement disorders where recruitment and retention are challenging.

Trial registration: NCT03344601.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exercise*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Observational Studies as Topic*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*

Associated data