Treadmill training can improve gait for Parkinson's disease patients

Cochrane researchers have found that walking on a treadmill can help patients with Parkinson's disease move better. Treadmill walking can improve gait and is considered a safe intervention to improve slowness of movement that accompanies Parkinson's disease.

Researchers analyzed data from 203 patients for the review. They compared the effect of treadmill training on walking speed, stride length, number of steps per minute,and walking distance to patients who did not walk on a treadmill. Individuals with Parkinson's disease who engaged in treadmill walking improved in all areas of function except steps per minute.

"Treadmill training appears to be a safe and effective way of improving gait in patients with Parkinson's disease," said lead researcher Jan Mehrholz, of the Wissenschaftliches Institut in Kreischa, Germany. "Crucially, we saw very few adverse effects or drop outs in patients given this type of rehabilitation therapy."

The findings are based on just a few studies, and caution is suggested before walking on a treadmill becomes routine therapy for improving movement in patients with Parkinson's disease.

"We also need to answer basic questions about how long the benefits last and what a good training program should consist of. For instance, how often and how long should patients train for?" Improving gait in Parkinson's disease patients could improve quality of life when used in conjunction with other traditional therapies.