March 06, 2019
Body weight support treadmill training is an effective rehabilitation option for patients with Parkinson disease—particularly if patients have symptoms such as postural instability or a balance disorder that limit traditional overground gait training. Researchers published their findings online in Frontiers in Neurology.
Previous studies have shown the effectiveness of body weight support treadmill training in patients with stroke and spinal cord injuries, researchers noted. To test the intervention in patients with Parkinson disease, they assigned 36 patients to daily 20-minute sessions of either body weight support treadmill training or overground gait training, which served as a control intervention, over 4 weeks. All participants also completed daily 40-minute sessions of traditional physio-kinesitherapy during that time.
Regardless of the intervention, all patients improved significantly in gait parameters and in clinical scales such as the Functional Independence Measure and the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale, according to the study.
“Even if we failed to detect any statistically significant differences between groups in the different clinical and gait parameters,” researchers wrote, “the intragroup analysis captured a specific pattern of qualitative improvement associated to cadence and stride duration for the body weight support treadmill training group and to the swing/stance ratio for the control group.”
Four patients, however, could not tolerate body weight support treadmill training because of chronic pain or symptoms of anxiety, researchers reported.
“Body weight support treadmill training and traditional rehabilitation treatment are both effective in improving clinical motor functions and kinematic gait parameters,” researchers concluded. “Body weight support treadmill training is generally well-tolerated, though caution is needed in subjects with chronic pain or with anxious symptoms.”
Berra E, De Icco R, Avenali M, et al. Body weight support combined with treadmill in the rehabilitation of Parkinsonian gait: a review of literature and new data from a controlled study. Frontiers in Neurology. 2019 February 8;9:1066.