Simplified Physical Therapy Regimen for Parkinson's Boosts Patients' Walking Speed

Date: April 28, 2015
Dr. June Kume
Dr. June Kume
Media Contact:

Elisheva Schlam
Executive Director of Communications
646-565-6420
elisheva.schlam@touro.edu

Effective exercise-based treatments for Parkinson's disease can be intensively structured, time-consuming and difficult to implement, but research presented here at Touro College Research Day shows a multi-modal therapeutic approach that can make a big difference for patients.

Organized by the Touro Research Collaborative, Touro College Research Day is being held from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28, at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Touro College of Pharmacy campus at 230 West 125th Street in Harlem.

Christina Burke, PT, DPT, NCS , Stacy Trebing, PT and June Kume, MSPT, PhD, an assistant professor at Touro College’s School of Health Sciences and research coordinator for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, co-designed an exercise regimen for Parkinson's patients that  incorporates traditional physical therapy (PT) with large-amplitude movement therapy, in which patients perform exaggerated versions of normal movements.

Current protocols using large-amplitude movement are very intense, Dr. Kume noted. “It's a very rigorous schedule that sometimes is too rigorous for patients to adhere to in an outpatient clinic,” she said.

She and her colleagues wanted to see if following a more traditional PT schedule of two to three 45-minute sessions per week that incorporated large-amplitude movement would help patients. “The effect of following a protocol that's more in keeping with what you would normally see in an outpatient setting is something that we wanted to assess, as well as using some elements of those large-amplitude movements,” Dr. Kume said.

And in the nine-patient pilot study being reported today, the regimen did make a difference. Study participants included three patients with little or no disability whose symptoms only affected one side of the body, and six patients with mild to moderate disability affecting both sides of the body and some postural instability.

The Parkinson's patients with the most severe illness showed the greatest improvement, with a significant increase in their walking velocity (centimeters per second) and cadence (steps per minute) as compared to the less-disabled patients. To date, Dr. Burke and her team have now enrolled 9patients in all, although more individuals are entering this study in an ongoing basis..

The Touro Research Collaborative, a dedicated group of faculty who pursue research in the medical and health sciences, founded the Research Day—now in its fourth year—to foster collaborations among faculty and students.