Introduction Progressive motor dysfunction is a major characteristic of Huntington’s disease (HD) causing considerable disability in many patients. In a recent study the reliability and minimal detectable change of instruments that measure motor functioning in HD patients were examined. Remarkably, late stage patients scored better on most outcome measures compared to earlier staged patients. A post-hoc analysis revealed that many late stage patients participated in a brisk walking program.
Aims In a retrospective study we aimed to clarify the efficacy of a brisk walking program on motor function and functional capacity in patients with HD.
Methods All patients participated in a weekly one-hour brisk walking program for at least 6 months. Patients were randomly tested by trained physical therapists in the course of one year before and two years after the program started using instruments that measure motor function and functional capacity. A linear mixed model analysis was used to compare the changes in outcome before and after the program was initiated.
Results We found no difference in change for any of the outcome measures except for UHDRS total functional capacity (TFC). Before the start of the program mean (SE) TFC scores significantly decreased from 10.2 (0.8) one year before the start of the program to 7.1 (1.2) at baseline (p = 0.000). After the program was initiated the course of TFC scores leveled off with 5.0 (1.0) after 6 months and 4.2 (0.8) after 24 months (p = 0.221).
Conclusion A weekly brisk walking program does not influence the course of motor functioning in HD patients, but may retard total functional deterioration.
- Brisk walking program