Nurse helping woman walk with walker

Patients with Parkinson’s disease whose physical therapy sessions are scheduled every two weeks may better maintain their functional gains than those who receive short-term, closely spaced “burst” physical therapy, researchers say.

In a new study, 22 final study participants received either burst physical therapy — two therapy sessions a week for six weeks — or one session every two weeks over six months.

Investigators compared six-month scores on the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test in each group. TUG tracks the time it takes to rise from a chair, walk a distance and sit back down. It is used as a measure of older adults’ mobility, balance, walking ability and falls risk. The study’s objective was to determine whether spaced physical therapy helped patients maintain functional improvements over time.

There was no clinically significant benefit for either group in TUG scores at six months. But patients in the spaced physical therapy cohort maintained their TUG scores between baseline and 6 months. In contrast, the burst physical therapy group maintained scores at six weeks, but had lost gains by six months.

The study was published in Parkinsonism & Related Disorders.

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