Parkinson’s Disease Wellbeing Program: Translating information into action

Mr Jeremey Horne1, Miss Megan  Campbell1, Mrs Susan Harkness1

1Calvary Health Care Kogarah, Kogarah, Australia

Background: There is growing evidence that exercise provides a benefit in treating the motor and non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Interventions promoting client engagement and establishing strategies for symptom management can prevent inactivity related decline and improve quality of life. Yet, as the incidence rises, PD remains inadequately serviced by the Australian health system.

 Objective: The aims of this study were to determine 1) whether a 5-week PD-specific program resulted in sustained physical and psycho-social benefits, 2) the relationship between patient characteristics, exercise, falls and physical and psycho-social parameters.

 Method: PD clients (Hoehn–Yahr stage 1-3, MMSE >24) were invited to attend a Parkinson’s disease Wellbeing program (PWbP). The 5 week multidisciplinary program conducted in a Day Rehabilitation Unit consisted of 2 x 2.5 hour weekly sessions including group education and exercise for 6-8 clients per session. Assessment was conducted at the commencement and completion of the 5 week PWbP and at 12 months.

 Results: Results from 135 patients (M:97; F:38); (Age: mean 70; range 30-91) revealed significant improvements (P-value <0.01) in walking endurance, gait speed, sit to stand, timed up and go, balance and grip strength. These benefits were being sustained at 12 months post discharge. In addition, a 50% reduction in falls and a 2 fold increase in exercise participation was reported. Psychosocial measures including quality of life (PDQ-39); fatigue (PSF-16) and mood (DASS-21) all improved significantly (P-value <0.01) at 6 weeks but not at 12 months. Clients also improved their knowledge of PD (P-value <0.01).

 Conclusion: Patients recruited into a 5-week PD education and exercise program achieved significant 12-month benefits in physical but not psycho-social measures. Patients with >1 fall post-treatment were less likely to be exercising at 12-month follow-up. Regular contact is needed to address psycho-social factors associated with this chronic, progressive, neurological disease.


Jeremey Horne – Senior physiotherapist, manager of the Day Rehabilitation Unit for the past 11 years. Specialist interest in Parkinson’s disease and has developed an education and exercise program for people newly diagnosed with PD which has helped over 400 clients in almost 4 years since inception.

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