Objective: This study considered whether a therapy community could create an infrastructure for developing and maintaining a service delivery model grounded in a clinic-based physiotherapy model. A longitudinal clinical study was conducted to assess the abilities of participants with Parkinson disease in a 10-month community exercise program.
Methods: Fifteen individuals averaging stage 3 on the Hoehn and Yahr scale, 6 years since Parkinson disease diagnosis, and 72 years old, participated.
Results: Graphical analysis of ambulation endurance demonstrated the strongest improvement over time (11%). Walking speeds, balance, and mobility showed a maintenance effect over the 10 months. The total Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale, Activities of Daily Living subscale, and Motor subscale remained statistically unchanged in the study. Scores on the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale Mentation, Behavior, and Mood subscale improved by 38%. None of the scores met or exceeded the minimal detectable change, MDC95 but two scores demonstrated more than 10% change.
Conclusion: This clinical study implemented previous short-term research findings into an ongoing community wellness program for individuals with Parkinson disease. No community-based studies have demonstrated an ability to maintain a group for an extended time frame. Group exercise including forward and backward treadmill training, designed and monitored by a physical therapist, may improve or maintain functional outcomes.