Feasibility of a Virtual Exercise Coach to Promote Walking in Community-Dwelling Persons with Parkinson Disease

The benefits of exercise for persons with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are well-established, but long-term adherence is limited. The aim of this study was to explore the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary evidence of effectiveness of a Virtual Exercise Coach to promote daily walking in community dwelling persons with PD. The Virtual Exercise Coach is an animated character viewed on a notebook computer that emulates face to face interactions. Subjects were instructed to interact with the Virtual Coach for 5 minutes, wear a pedometer and walk daily for one month.
At study completion, there was a 100% retention rate and subjects had an average satisfaction score of 5.6/7 (with seven maximal satisfaction) with the Virtual Exercise Coach. Mean adherence to daily walking was 85%. Both gait speed and the 6-minute walk test significantly improved (P<0.05) from baseline to one month. No adverse events were reported. Sedentary persons with PD successfully used a computer and interacted with a Virtual Coach. Retention, satisfaction and adherence to daily walking were high over one-month and significant improvements were seen in mobility assessments. Longer, controlled trials are needed to assess the effectiveness of the Virtual Coach in promoting adherence to long-term exercise in persons with PD.

Ellis T, Latham NK, Deangelis TR, Thomas CA, Saint-Hilaire M, Bickmore TW. Feasibility of a virtual exercise coach to promote walking in community-dwelling persons with Parkinson disease. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2013 Jun;92(6):472-85.

Determining the Natural History of Quality of Life and Mobility in People with Parkinson’s Disease

The purpose of this multi-center prospective study is to examine the 2-year trajectory of disablement in 260 persons with Parkinson Disease. We are interested in investigating how quality of life, mobility, and exercise habits change in community-dwelling individuals with Parkinson’s disease over the natural course of the disease.

Ellis T, Boudreau JK, Deangelis TR, Brown LE, Cavanaugh JT, Earhart GM, Ford MP, Foreman KB, Dibble LE. Barriers to Exercise in People with Parkinson Disease. Phys Ther 2013: Feb 21

Rehabilitation for Self-Management of Parkinson’s Disease

The overall goal of this study was to determine whether rehabilitation that focuses on self-management of health will improve day-to-day functioning and quality of life for community-living people with Parkinson’s disease, beyond the effects of medical treatment alone. Approximately 120 individuals with Parkinson’s disease have participated in the study. Result revealed greater improvements in quality of life for those who participated in the exercise program along with medication compared to those who relied on medication only.

Effects of A Movement Disorders Program in Parkinson’s Disease

For this research project, we collaborate with the Department of Neurology at Boston Medical Center and the Rehabilitation Department at Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital. The effects of a specialized, interdisciplinary Movement Disorders Program for patients with Parkinson’s disease in an inpatient setting are investigated. The study reveals that patients with PD made significant improvements in mobility.