Clinical Edge

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Treadmill Walking Improved Forward Walking in PD

J Neurol Phys Ther; 2019 Jan; Rawson, McNeely, et al

Contrary to researchers’ hypotheses, only treadmill walking improved forward walking in people with Parkinson disease (PD), while backward walking improved with treadmill and stretching, according to a recent prospective, controlled trial. Researchers evaluated the impact of tango, treadmill walking, and stretching on gait, balance, motor function, and quality of life on people with PD. 96 participants (age: 67.2 ± 8.9 years, 42% female) with mild to moderate idiopathic PD were serially assigned to tango, treadmill walking, or stretching (active control group) and attended 1-hour classes twice weekly for 12 weeks. Assessments occurred off anti-PD medication before and after the intervention and at follow-up 12 weeks after the intervention. They found:

  • Forward velocity and backward velocity improved for the treadmill group from baseline to posttest and improvements persisted at follow-up.
  • Backward velocity and motor functioning improved for the stretching group from baseline to posttest, but results did not persist at follow-up.
  • There were no significant changes in the tango group across time points.


Rawson KS, McNeely ME, Duncan RP, Pickett KA, Perlmutter JS, Earhart GM. J Neurol Phys Ther. Exercise and Parkinson disease: Comparing tango, treadmill, and stretching. 2019;43(1):26-32. doi:10.1097/NPT.0000000000000245.