Physical activity levels in people with Parkinson’s disease who have deep brain stimulation

Ms Mary Danoudis1, Ms Dianne Cameron1

1Monash Health, Cheltenham, Australia


Aims: The aims were to measure self-reported activity behaviour of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) who had subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) and to investigate relationships between their physical activity levels and factors that might influence their activity behaviour.

Methods: People who had STN-DBS surgery over the previous 5 years were asked to participate. Inclusion criteria were a diagnosis of idiopathic PD; classification at Hoehn and Yahr stages 1 to 4; and living at home. Exclusion criteria included discontinuation of STN-DBS; and dementia. Participants were mailed a survey that included questionnaires relating to physical activity levels, self-efficacy, disease severity, fear of falling and depression. Demographic data included age, sex and falls history.

Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics and nonparametric correlations.

Results: The average time since surgery for the 24 participants was 4.4 (SD 2.0) years. Participants had moderate disease severity and 75% reported falls over the previous 12 months. Males, but not females, younger than 70 years were significantly less active than reported norms for the same age range. Domestic tasks, such as house and lawn work, were the largest contributors to the total activity score. Levels of physical activity levels had a significant negative association with falls and non-motor symptoms (p<0.05). A history of falls was the only significant moderator of physical activity.

Significance of the findings for allied health: When planning interventions to change activity behaviour after STN-DBS surgery, clinicians need to consider strategies to decrease barriers to exercise, such as falls risk and fear of falling.