Background Individuals with Huntington’s disease (HD) experience balance and walking problems. Treadmill training (TT) improves walking function (e.g., gait speed, stride length) in Parkinson’s disease suggesting that TT may also be beneficial in HD.
Aims We investigated the safety, feasibility, and possible effects on gait of a single session of TT in individuals with HD.
Methods Nine ambulatory individuals with HD [mean (SD); age: 53.4 (9.4) yrs; symptom duration: 9.5 (5.9) yrs; 5 women; TFC: 8.2 (3)] participated in this study. Spatiotemporal gait parameters in forward, forward fast, and backward walking were assessed with GAITRite. Mobility was assessed with the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test. Outcome measures were assessed before (pre1), after a 15 min delay (pre2) and immediately following (post) TT. TT included 20 min of continuous walking with treadmill speed set at the participant’s overground comfortable walking speed initially and then increased by 10% in each subsequent 5-minute time interval. Vital signs and perceived rate of exertion (RPE) were collected before, during, and after TT.
Results All participants completed the 20-minute training period. Blood pressure and heart rate responses to walking were within normal ranges; no adverse events occurred. RPEs during treadmill walking ranged from 2–3; one individual needed to rest during TT. Gait measures were unchanged across all conditions following TT. TUG scores trended toward significance between pre1 and post testing (p = 0.067). Treadmill walking required the full attention of many participants to maintain continuous stepping and most participants (60%) did not attain their comfortable overground walking speeds on the TT by session end, suggesting that it was cognitively challenging.
Conclusions Preliminary data from this study suggest that TT of moderate intensity may be safe and feasible in individuals with HD. Analysis of gait variability and motor coordination data is ongoing.
- treadmill training
- Huntington’s disease
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