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Multimodal Training Reduces Fall Frequency as Physical Activity Increases in Individuals With Parkinson’s Disease

Amanda L. Penko, Jacob E. Barkley, Anson B. Rosenfeldt, and Jay L. Alberts

Background: Parkinson’s disease (PD) results in a global decrease in information processing, ultimately resulting in dysfunction executing motor-cognitive tasks. Motor-cognitive impairments contribute to postural instability, often leading to falls and decreased physical activity. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of a multimodal training (MMT) versus single-modal (SMT) training on motor symptoms, fall frequency, and physical activity in patients with PD classified as fallers. Methods: Individuals with PD were randomized into SMT (n = 11) or MMT (n = 10) and completed training 3 times per week for 8 weeks. The SMT completed gait and cognitive training separately, whereas MMT completed gait and cognitive training simultaneously during each 45-minute session. Physical activity, 30-day fall frequency, and PD motor symptoms were assessed at baseline, posttreatment, and during a 4-week follow-up. Results: Both groups exhibited significant (P < .05) improvements in clinical ratings of motor function, as symptoms improved by 8% and 15% for SMT and MMT, respectively. Physical activity significantly increased (P < .05) for both groups from baseline (mean steps 4942 [4415]) to posttreatment (mean steps 5914 [5425]). The MMT resulted in a significant 60% reduction in falls. Conclusions: Although SMT and MMT approaches are both effective in improving physical activity and motor symptoms of PD, only MMT reduced fall frequency after the intervention.