Aquatic obstacle training improves freezing of gait in Parkinson’s disease patients: a randomized controlled trial

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Abstract

Objective:

Our aim was to evaluate the effect of aquatic obstacle training on balance parameters in comparison with a traditional aquatic therapy in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Design:

A randomized single-blind controlled trial.

Setting:

Outpatients in the rehabilitation department.

Subjects:

A total of 46 patients with Parkinson’s disease in Hoehn–Yahr stage 2–3.

Interventions:

Participants were randomly assigned to (1) aquatic therapy or (2) obstacle aquatic therapy. All participants undertook aquatic therapy for 30 minutes, five times per week for six weeks.

Main measures:

The Freezing of Gait Questionnaire, Functional Reach Test, Timed Up and Go test and Berg Balance Scale were assessed at baseline, posttreatment and at six-month follow-up.

Results:

Both groups of patients had improved primary outcomes after the training program. A between-group comparison of the changes revealed that obstacle aquatic therapy was significantly higher for the Freezing of Gait Questionnaire (after treatment: 8.7 ± 3.3 vs 6.2 ± 2.1, P = 0.004; posttest: 7.7 ± 3.1 vs 5.3 ± 2.0, P = 0.003) and Timed Up and Go test (after treatment: 17.1 ± 2.9 vs 13.8 ± 1.9, P < 0.001; posttest: 16.3 ± 2.8 vs 12.9 ± 1.4, P < 0.001).

Conclusion:

Obstacle aquatic therapy in this protocol seems to be more effective than traditional protocols for gait and balance in patients with Parkinson’s disease, and the effect lasts for six months.

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