Oct 23, 2016 | Updated: 09:37 AM EST

Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy May Not Be Beneficial For Parkinson's Disease, Study Claims

Jan 22, 2016 12:38 AM EST

An emerging research suggests that physiotherapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) would not be beneficial for people who have Parkinson's disease. University of Birmingham researchers further suggest developing more effective treatment that can improve their quality of life.

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The researchers conducted the experiment on patients with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease. Comparing PT and OT against no therapy, the results reveal that the therapies do not improve patients' activities of daily living.

It enrolled 762 patients with mild to moderate PD and randomly assigned them on either combined PT and OT or no therapy. The intervention was conducted in an outpatient or community setting and based the therapy on their individual needs.

PT was commonly sought for reasons including gait, transfers and physical conditioning, whereas OT was for dressing, transfers and grooming. Among the therapy groups, median number of therapy sessions was 4 at 58 minutes for 8 weeks.

Based on the Nottingham Extended Activities of Daily Living Scale and Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire, researchers found little to no improvement in patients' condition, leading them to the conclusion that goal-directed OT and PT do not actually benefit the early stages of the disease.

However, some argued including a Mayo Clinic researcher, that therapy should highly be referred to a patient who is in dire need of assistance. Dr. Eric Ahlskog explained that other symptoms brought about by the disease like gait freezing, immobilized limbs and fall risk would gain benefit from the therapies.

"These conventional physical therapy practices take no advantage of what has now become increasingly apparent: ongoing aerobic exercise may slow the progression of Parkinson's," he said.

Carl E. Clarke, study author from the University of Birmingham, admitted that further researches are still needed to prove the claim. Furthermore, he said that the researchers may have overlooked its potential benefits because of possible confounding factors, such as the therapy's intensity and the shortened time span.

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