Exercise for Parkinson Disease patients

The recent newsletter from the Neurology section included this article, that I thought I would pass along in its entirety as it describes how and why this program and website came about.  I also have a link to the program under the PT Resources page.

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How to implement evidence based research into a community program for people with Parkinson Disease?
“Many people with Parkinson Disease (PD) enjoy group exercise programming, but believe they do not fit into the general exercise classes offered.  Many years ago, a small group of physical therapists (PTs)  developed exercise classes that directly targeted the needs of people with Parkinson disease. These classes consist of treadmill walking forward and backwards, along with a floor routine of exercises promoting back, hip, and shoulder extensor strength as well as activities focusing on stretching the hip flexors and trunk. Clients also use the strengthening equipment if available at the site.
In an effort to analyze the program’s effectiveness, a research study was completed:  “Community-Based Exercise and Wellness Program for People with Parkinson Disease: Experiences from a 10-Month Trial,” by Teresa Steffen, Cheryl Petersen and Leah Dvorak (Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy in 2012). It demonstrates walking endurance had the largest improvement over time (11%). The second unpredictable outcome was that mentation, behavior and mood on the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale improved by 38%.
Currently, there are 15 Wisconsin sites that offer these exercise classes.  They are operated by PTs in Fish Creek, Grafton, Greenfield, Hartford, Green Bay, Madison, Manitowoc, Oconomowoc, Racine, Shawano, Sheboygan, Sturgeon Bay, Waukesha, West Bend, and Whitefish Bay.
It is the belief of the developer of these programs, Dr. Teresa Steffen, that no one should “own” these programs, but rather, that these programs should be able to develop and grow wherever there is a need and a therapist with the energy and qualifications to run them.  In an effort to help grow and support these important programs, Dr. Steffen has developed a website: www.exercisepd.com   The website has an important section on the assessment of the client with PD. It also has one on exercises that have shown the largest response in the Parkinson literature including treadmill training, resistive exercises and then a few fun exercises like dance and tai chi.  This website not only includes important information for clinicians, but can also be a useful source of information for those with Parkinson’s disease.”
From Neurology Section E-Newsletter 10.22.2012
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