Cognitively Challenging Agility Boot Camp Program for Freezing of Gait in Parkinson Disease
Introduction. It is well documented that freezing of gait (FoG) episodes occur in situations that are mentally challenging, such as dual tasks, consistent with less automatic control of gait in people with Parkinson disease (PD) and FoG. However, most physical rehabilitation does not include such challenges. The purpose was to determine (1) feasibility of a cognitively challenging Agility Boot Camp–Cognitive (ABC-C) program and (2) effects of this intervention on FoG, dual-task cost, balance, executive function, and functional connectivity. Methods. A total of 46 people with PD and FoG enrolled in this randomized crossover trial. Each participant had 6 weeks of ABC-C and Education interventions. Outcome measures were the following: FoG, perceived and objective measures; dual-task cost on gait; balance; executive function; and right supplementary motor area (SMA)–pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) functional connectivity. Effect sizes were calculated. Results. ABC-C had high compliance (90%), with a 24% dropout rate. Improvements after exercise, revealed by moderate and large effect sizes, were observed for subject perception of FoG after exercise, dual-task cost on gait speed, balance, cognition (Scales for Outcomes in Parkinson’s disease–Cognition), and SMA-PPN connectivity. Conclusions. The ABC-C for people with PD and FoG is a feasible exercise program that has potential to improve FoG, balance, dual-task cost, executive function, and brain connectivity. The study provided effect sizes to help design future studies with more participants and longer duration to fully determine the potential to improve FoG.