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Development and Implementation of a Feasible Outcome Measure Battery for Community-Based Exercise Professionals

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Various types of community-based exercise exist for people with PD with differences in availability due to geographic location, appropriately trained professionals, and facility space. Many people with PD and their exercise leaders would like to know how these community exercise programs are helping their physical function. The purpose of this study is to develop a testing battery that would allow for community exercise professionals to better understand the impact of their classes.

Aims

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(1) Develop a feasible test battery that can be administered in a short time by community exercise leaders and easily understood by participants with Parkinson's disease (PD) and develop a secure platform to tract the progress and outcomes of people with PD doing exercise in the community.

(2) Apply the measurement plan twice over a 2-4 month time frame to people with PD in exercise classes in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

(3) Use the battery for quality improvement of exercise classes by providing feedback to course instructors and participants with PD.

Description of Study Activities

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Through this project we aim to reduce the number of tests to improve efficiency of tests chosen so tests take no more than 20 minutes to complete, and/or can be completed in a group setting. After developing the test battery, we will train necessary personnel on how to conduct the test in an efficient manner. The test battery will then be consistently administered multiple times over a 6-month period across the 15 core program classes, as well as additional classes and sites that are recruited and identified. Upon completion of the testing, the exercise professionals will use the data for quality improvement. We will determine if there is a differential benefit to the classes offered and/or if the classes targeted the area of exercise that was intended. Upon completion of this project, we will create educational tool and disseminate our findings and test battery to exercise professionals across the Chicago-land area using the Parkinson's Foundation outreach network.

Preliminary Results

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Over the past year, we have conducted semi-consistent testing of a variety of outcome measures for people who attend one-on-one functional fitness appointments and/or PD specific classes.

The benefits of our pilot program are evidenced by participants and their care partners who stated: (1) "Thanks for your detailed and positive reports on [husband's] progress; we're both delighted, of course!" (2) "My husband is happy to hear your report of his work with you, and your good record-keeping on his testing results is also helpful." (3) "Having regular testing shows me that coming here, I'm not regressing or maintaining, it's [exercise] actually helping me improve. It keeps me optimistic about my future, because these testing numbers are showing me I am beating the odds."

The consistency of the testing also allows our exercise physiologists to tailor participants' workout structures based on changes in outcome measures, and then specifically target different areas of exercise (such as balance, strength and/or aerobic) leading to better improvement and/or maintenance.