Objectives: The effectiveness of an exercise intervention for people in early and midstage Parkinson's disease (stages 2 and 3 of Hoehn and Yahr) in improving spinal flexibility and physical performance in a sample of community-dwelling older people is described.
Design and setting: Fifty-one men and women, aged 55-84 years, identified through advertisement, local support groups, and local neurologists were enrolled into a randomized, controlled trial. Subjects were assigned randomly to an intervention or a usual care arm (i.e., no specific exercise). Of the original 51 participants, 46 completed the randomized, controlled trial. Participants in the exercise arm (n = 23) received individual instruction three times per week for 10 weeks. Participants in the usual care arm (n = 23) were "wait listed" for intervention.
Measurements: Changes over 10 weeks in spinal flexibility (i.e., functional axial rotation) and physical performance (i.e., functional reach, timed supine to stand) were the primary outcome measures.
Results: MANOVA conducted for the three primary outcome variables demonstrated significant differences (P < or = .05) between the two groups. Further analysis using ANOVA demonstrated significant differences between groups in functional axial rotation and functional reach for the intervention compared with the control group. There was no significant difference in supine to sit time.
Conclusion: Study results demonstrate that improvements in axial mobility and physical performance can be achieved with a 10-week exercise program for people in the early and midstages of PD.