Abstract: The main objective of this study is to test the effect of thermal aquatic exercise on motor symptoms and quality of life in people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Fourteen participants with diagnosis of idiopathic PD completed the whole rehabilitation session and evaluation protocol (Hoehn and Yahr in OFF state: 2–3; Mini Mental State Examination >24; stable pharmacological treatment in the 3 months prior participating in the study). Cognitive and motor status, functional abilities and quality of life were assessed at baseline and after an intensive rehabilitation program in thermal water (12 sessions of 45 min in a 1.4 m depth pool at 32–36 ◦C). The Mini Balance Evaluation System Test (Mini-BESTest) and the PD Quality of Life Questionnaire (PDQ-39) were considered as main outcomes.
Secondary assessment measures evaluated motor symptoms and quality of life and psychological well-being. Participants kept good cognitive and functional status after treatment. Balance of all the participants significantly improved (Mini-BESTest: p < 0.01). The PDQ-39 significantly improved after rehabilitation (p = 0.038), with significance being driven by dimensions strongly related to motor status. Thermal aquatic exercise may represent a promising rehabilitation tool to prevent the impact of motor symptoms on daily-life activities of people with PD. PDQ-39 improvement foreshows good effects of the intervention on quality of life and psychological well-being.
Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; physical therapy; aquatic therapy; motion analysis