Does assisted cycling improve function in those with Parkinson’s disease?
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Authors: Evens, A. and Clark, C.
Journal: Physical Therapy Reviews
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Background: Functional decline is a cardinal sign of Parkinson’s disease (PD), a neurodegenerative disease that affects 1% of individuals over the age of 60. Physical symptoms have a detrimental effect on activities of daily living and quality of life. High intensity exercise has enhanced neuroplasticity and reduced the rate of dopaminergic cell loss in animal studies. One form of high intensity exercise is assisted cycling, which has been shown to be effective for those with other neurological disorders. There is no consensus as to the efficacy in those with PD. Objective: To explore the efficacy of assisted cycling in improving motor function in people with PD. Method: A systematic search of PsycINFO, ScienceDirect, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, arXiv, MEDLINE and Web of Science was conducted, including articles from January 2003 to October 2016. Studies were assessed for quality using a critical appraisal tool. No articles were excluded due to quality. Results: Seven studies were included in this review, with a total sample of 179 participants with a diagnosis of PD. Four studies were randomised control trials, the others included two case control trials, and a single-subject design trial. The level of cycle assistance, length of intervention and sessions varied between studies. All interventions showed improvements in motor function, with a greater effect on those with more advanced PD. Conclusion: There is moderate evidence to show the efficacy of assisted cycling in improving global motor function in individuals with PD. Future research is required to determine optimum assisted cycling interventions in terms of frequency, duration of sessions and length. The long-term effects of assisted cycling should also be explored in future research.