Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Accidental Falls -- prevention & control; Aged; Exercise Therapy; Parkinson Disease -- complications; Quality of Life; Risk Assessment


Purpose/Hypothesis: Falls are evident in the older population and are a common and disabling feature of Parkinson Disease (PO). The benefits of activity are well known to decrease balance deficits and increase overall quality of life in the older adult population. In addition highly challenging exercises have been suggested to increase neuroplasticity in individuals with PD. The effect of challenging exercises on clinical outcomes in a structured Physical Therapy setting is documented in literature; however, the effect of a community based program is not well documented. Our pilot study examined the effect of a community exercise program on improving quality of life and decreasing fall risk as well as overall satisfaction with the program.

Methods: Seven participants, 3 females and 4 males, age range 54-78 years old, participated twice weekly in a challenging exercise program incorporating various transitional movements, large movements, rotational movements, and cognitive verbal tasks. Pre-tests were administered followed by a post test at 3 months. Tasks included gait speed forward and backward, timed up and go (TUG), cognitive timed up and go (CTUG), functional reach, 30 second sit-to-stand, and a quality of life questionnaire, the PDQ-39. Comparison of pre- and post- test scores was performed to note any minimally detectable changes in scores.

Results: No significant differences in functional reach, TUG, or gait speed were noted; however, researchers observed improvement in quality of movement during gait. All participants improved in CTUG and 30 second sit-to-stand. Six participants' quality of life scores improved most notably in speech and walking one half mile. All 7 participants highly recommended continuing the program.

Conclusion: These findings are consistent with recent literature. The challenging exercises in a community based program produced objective improvements. Participants all had positive comments regarding the program such as "I feel better, I'm more alert, and I feel I move around better" and ''The most beneficial part of this program is that it exists!!!"