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1.  The Effects of Highly Challenging Balance Training in Elderly With Parkinson’s Disease 
Background. Highly challenging exercises have been suggested to induce neuroplasticity in individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD); however, its effect on clinical outcomes remains largely unknown. Objective. To evaluate the short-term effects of the HiBalance program, a highly challenging balance-training regimen that incorporates both dual-tasking and PD-specific balance components, compared with usual care in elderly with mild to moderate PD. Methods. Participants with PD (n = 100) were randomized, either to the 10-week HiBalance program (n = 51) or to the control group (n = 49). Participants were evaluated before and after the intervention. The main outcomes were balance performance (Mini-BESTest), gait velocity (during normal and dual-task gait), and concerns about falling (Falls Efficacy Scale–International). Performance of a cognitive task while walking, physical activity level (average steps per day), and activities of daily living were secondary outcomes. Results. A total of 91 participants completed the study. After the intervention, the between group comparison showed significantly improved balance and gait performance in the training group. Moreover, although no significant between group difference was observed regarding gait performance during dual-tasking; the participants in the training group improved their performance of the cognitive task while walking, as compared with the control group. Regarding physical activity levels and activities of daily living, in comparison to the control group, favorable results were found for the training group. No group differences were found for concerns about falling. Conclusions. The HiBalance program significantly benefited balance and gait abilities when compared with usual care and showed promising transfer effects to everyday living. Long-term follow-up assessments will further explore these effects.
doi:10.1177/1545968314567150
PMCID: PMC4582836  PMID: 25608520
dual task; exercise; gait; physical activity; postural control
2.  The Mini-BESTest - a clinically reproducible tool for balance evaluations in mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease? 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:235.
Background
The Mini-BESTest is a clinical balance test that has shown a high sensitivity in detecting balance impairments in elderly with Parkinson's disease (PD). However, its reproducibility between different raters and between test occasions has yet to be investigated in a clinical context. Moreover, no one has investigated the reproducibility of the Mini-BESTest's subcomponents (i.e. anticipatory postural adjustments; postural responses; sensory orientation and dynamic gait).
We aimed to investigate the inter-rater and test-retest reproducibility (reliability as well as agreement) of the Mini-BESTest, as well as its subcomponents, in elderly with mild to moderate PD, performed under conditions assimilating clinical practice.
Method
This was an observational measurement study with a test-retest design.
Twenty-seven individuals with idiopathic PD (66 - 80 years, mean age: 73; Hoehn & Yahr: 2-3; 1-15 years since diagnosis) were included. Two test administrators, having different experiences with the Mini-BESTest, administered the test individually, in separate rooms in a hospital setting. For the test-retest assessment, all participants returned 7 days after the first test session to perform the Mini-BESTest under similar conditions. Intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC2.1), standard error of measurement (SEMagreement), and smallest real difference (SRD) were analyzed.
Results
The Mini-BESTest showed good reliability for both inter-rater and test-retest reproducibility (ICC = 0.72 and 0.80). Regarding agreement, the measurement error (SRD) was found to be 4.1 points (accounting for 15% of the maximal total score) for inter-rater reproducibility and 3.4 points (12% of the maximal total score) for test-retest reproducibility. The investigation of the Mini-BESTest's subcomponents showed a similar pattern for both inter-rater and test-retest reproducibility, where postural responses had the largest proportional measurement error, and sensory orientation showed the highest agreement.
Conclusions
Our findings indicate that the Mini-BESTest is able to distinguish between individuals with mild to moderate PD; however, when used in clinical balance assessments, the large measurement error needs to be accounted for.
doi:10.1186/s12883-014-0235-7
PMCID: PMC4272769  PMID: 25496796
Reliability; Measurement error; Psychometric; Balance; Balance evaluation systems test; Test-retest; Inter-rater; Smallest real difference
3.  A novel conceptual framework for balance training in Parkinson’s disease-study protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:111.
Background
There is increasing scientific knowledge about the interaction between physiological (musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cognitive and sensory) systems and their influence on balance and walking impairments in Parkinson’s disease. We have developed a new conceptual framework for balance training, emphasising specific components of balance control related to Parkinson’s disease symptoms by using highly challenging, progressive and varying training conditions. The primary aim of this proposed randomised controlled trial will be to investigate the short-term and long-term effects of a 10-week balance training regime in elderly with Parkinson’s disease.
Methods/Design
Eighty participants with mild to moderate idiopathic Parkinson’s disease will be recruited and randomly allocated to an intervention group receiving balance training or a control group whose participants will continue to receive their usual care. The intervention will consist of a 10-week group training regime (1-hour training, three times per week), which will be led by two physiotherapists to ensure training progression and safety. The conceptual framework will be applied by addressing specific balance components (sensory integration, anticipatory postural adjustments, motor agility, stability limits) through varying training conditions and structured progression. Assessment will be conducted through a multi-dimensional battery of outcomes, prior to and immediately after the 10-week intervention, and at 9 and 15 months’ follow-up after entering the study. Primary outcome measures will be balance performance (assessed using the Mini Balance Evaluation Systems Test), change in gait velocity (m/s) between single and dual task walking, and fear of falling (evaluated using the Fall Efficacy Scale International).
Discussion
This study has the potential to provide new insight and knowledge of the effects of specific, varied and challenging balance training on a wide health spectrum in elderly with PD. If found to be effective, this pragmatic approach with translation of theory into practice, can be implemented in existing outpatient care.
Trial registration
NCT01417598
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-111
PMCID: PMC3482553  PMID: 23017069

Results 1-3 (3)