Group exercise may help relieve motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease | Programs assessed include dance, tai chi, and Nordic walking

Participation in a community exercise program appears to help relieve motor symptoms of Parkinson’s diseasesuggests a synthesis study.

The researchers also observed that older adults and those who participate in these programs for longer periods of time may derive the most benefit.

The review study, “Effects and parameters of community exercise on motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: a meta-analysiswas published in BMC Neurology.

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Review study on potential benefits of community exercise with Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is marked by the degeneration and death of nerve cells that make dopamine, a chemical that sends signals to neurons that control body movement.

Their loss leads to a series of motor symptomssuch as shaking (shaking), stiffness and slowness of movement, and difficulty with balance, all of which can increase the risk of falling.

Various treatments for Parkinson’s disease aim to relieve disease symptoms and maintain quality of life, and may include non-pharmacological treatments as physiotherapy.

“At present, rehabilitation is mostly performed with equipment or professional therapists, which improves the condition of patients but also increases the economic burden on patients,” the researchers write.

“Community exercise…does not require a professional physiotherapist, expensive equipment or a special location and is suitable for long-term recovery from illness, with easy access and low cost,” they added. .

To get a clearer view of the potential benefits of community exercise, Chinese scientists searched six databases for published studies reporting the results of trials comparing the effects of community exercise with usual care of motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Community exercise was considered any form of exercise not guided by a physical therapist or requiring special equipment. Patients receiving usual care – which does not include any exercise therapy – were considered a control group for the comparisons.

A total of 22 studies, involving 809 people with Parkinson’s disease, were included in the meta-analysis. Community exercises included dance in five studies, tai chi in five, QiGong in four, tango in three, yoga in two, Nordic walking in two and home exercise in one.

Tai Chi was originally a Chinese martial art but, like QiGong, it is now largely a low-impact exercise program involving postures and breathing techniques. Nordic walking uses poles to work the upper body as well as the legs.

Exercise twice a week is most effective in relieving motor symptoms

Most of the studies were conducted in North America and Asia (nine each), while four took place in Europe and one in Oceania.

Most programs lasted 12 weeks (about three months), but the duration varied from one month to one year. Sessions usually took place two to three times a week, and each session lasted one hour in all but two studies.

The effects of community exercise on motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease were determined primarily by modifications of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) – Part 3.

The pooled data revealed that community exercise resulted in an average decrease of 7.91 points in the UPDRS-Part 3 compared to controls, indicating relief in motor symptoms. Exercising twice a week was more effective, the researchers noted.

In a Timed Up and Go test, which measures balance and risk of falling, patients who engaged in community exercise shortened the time it took to get up from a chair, walk three meters ( about 10 feet), then return to the chair by an average of 2.32 seconds.

Those who underwent such exercise were able to walk an average of 55.84 meters further than controls during a six-minute walk test. They also averaged 4.33 points higher on the Berg balance scale, indicating better balance.

Community exercise is also associated with an average decrease of 7.28 points in total UPDRS scores, indicating less severe disease.

While the data varied widely across studies, “this meta-analysis suggests that community exercise may benefit motor function,” the researchers wrote.

A patient’s age and program duration have been found to influence the effects of community exercise on UPDRS-Part 3 scores. That is, older adults and those engaging in such a program for longer periods experienced a greater reduction in motor symptoms.

“This meta-analysis suggests that community exercise may benefit motor function in patients with [Parkinson’s disease]wrote the researchers, adding that this “provides strong evidence for patients to choose more rehabilitation pathways.”

“Future studies should take into account the influence of age, treatment duration and weekly frequency,” the team concluded.

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