Does a six-week supervised exercise programme for Parkinson’s patients prevent against sarcopenia and improve physical function? A service evaluation

Purpose

It has been highly documented that sarcopenia is a common condition throughout the aging population. Defined as a loss of muscle mass and strength with modifiable risk factors. With considerable healthcare associated costs with sarcopenia, there remains a strong need to promote exercise-based interventions which may prevent it. Alongside this, systematic reviews have demonstrated that people with Parkinson’s (PwP), another age-related disease, can slow the progression of their motor and non-motor symptoms with exercise-based intervention. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess whether a six-week supervised exercise programme, spread over eight weeks, would help improve physical function and prevent against sarcopenia and for people with Parkinson’s (PWP)?

0.5 seconds
Mean improvements in TUAG
1.6 seconds
Mean improvements in FRSTS score

Approach

Six patients (three female) with a mean age of 61 years (95% confidence interval (CI) 48.9 – 73.4) with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s were referred to the exercise class by a qualified physiotherapist. Patients were assessed to be competent with self-directed supervised exercise. Participants were supervised for one hour (including a warm-up) a circuit-based exercise programme, followed by a cool down. Exercises remained the same throughout, with progression changes made every two weeks to improve adaptation response to exercise by the supervising physiotherapist. Outcome measures were the timed up and go (TUG), 6-meter walk test (6MWT), five repeated sit-to-stand test (FRSTS) and mean grip strength (using a Jamar dynamometer) of three attempts. Participants outcomes measures were taken at baseline and week six.

Outcomes

Results: All six patients completed the exercise programme and data were available for all outcomes. The baseline TUG score was 7.3 seconds (95% CI 5.5 – 9.2); mean improvements were 0.5 seconds (95% CI -1.3 – 2.3). The baseline 6MWT score was 3.3 seconds (95% CI 2.8 – 3.9); mean improvements were 1.2 seconds (95% CI 0.7 – 1.6). The baseline FRSTS score was 9.3 seconds (95% CI 7.3 – 11.2); mean improvements were 1.6 seconds (95% CI 0.1 – 3.0). Baseline grip strength right hand as baseline was 32.2kg (95% CI 24.7 – 40.0); mean improvements were -0.3kg (-4.1 – 3.5). Baseline grip strength left hand as baseline was 30.0kg (95% CI 21.6 – 38.5); mean improvements were 3.4kg (-0.3 – 7.0).

Conclusion(s): A six-week supervised exercise programme for people with Parkinson's (PwP) may be beneficial to help improve physical attributes, prevent against sarcopenia and maintain national guidelines for physical activity. The benefits of weekly exercise may help participants increase their physical activity and exercise tolerance levels in the future, whilst improving muscular strength.

Cost and savings

No cost. 

Implications

Impact: Physical attributes such as muscular strength, walking speed and reducing the risk of falling can be improved when exercise intervention for people with Parkinson’s is made available in a community setting. If feasible, weekly exercise sessions tailored around strength and conditioning principles may improve motor and non-motor symptoms of the disease. Therapist may consider running similar interventions over an eight-to-twelve-week period for greater results.

Top three learning points

No further information. 

Funding acknowledgements

This work was not funded.