Affiliations: [a] Physiotherapy Department, North/South Lee PCC, St Finbarr’s Hospital, Cork, Ireland
| [b] School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Corresponding author: Fiona O’Shea, Physiotherapy Department, North/South Lee PCC, St Finbarr’s Hospital, Douglas Road, Cork, Ireland. Tel.: +353 0867871708; Fax: +353 026 23408; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: This study investigated the clinical effectiveness of a newly developed primary care group exercise programme for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in terms of balance, functional mobility and self reported outcomes. A secondary aim was to explore participant’s perceptions of the programme and barriers to participation. METHODS: A cohort study with measures pre/post/three month post intervention was carried out. Outcomes included the Six Minute Walk Test (6MWT), Timed Up and Go test (TUG), Lindop Scale, Functional Reach Test (FRT), Berg Balance Scale (BBS) and Parkinson Disease Questionnaire-39 (PDQ-39). The intervention was a once weekly, hour long circuit-based exercise class, with an educational component. Two focus groups were conducted. ANALYSIS: Changes from pre to post and pre to three months were tested using paired sample ‘t’ tests, Wilcoxon signed ranks tests and chi square tests. Bonferroni corrected statistical significance was set at p < 0.025. Qualitative data were subject to thematic content analysis. RESULTS: Fifteen participants, 11 male, 4 female of mean age 72 years and mean Hoehn and Yahr rating 2.5, were included. Clinically and statistically significant changes (p < 0.025) in BBS, FR and PDQ-39 were found after exercise participation and these were sustained after three months. There was a trend for declining proportion of patients falling at follow up (40% in 3 months prior to programme v 10%). Emerging qualitative themes included enjoyment and perceived functional improvements. CONCLUSION: This research reveals the effectiveness of this programme in improving balance, functional mobility and QoL. Participants perceived numerous benefits and suggested areas for improvement. Developing similar programmes around Ireland could optimise future healthcare management for the PD population.
Keywords: Parkinson’s disease, evaluation, exercise, falls, focus group