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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(1):CD002815.

A comparison of physiotherapy techniques for patients with Parkinson's disease.

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Despite optimal medical and surgical therapies for Parkinson's disease, patients develop progressive disability. The role of the physiotherapist is to maximise functional ability and minimise secondary complications through movement rehabilitation within a context of education and support for the whole person. What form of physiotherapy is most effective in the treatment of Parkinson's disease remains unclear.


1. To compare the efficacy and effectiveness of novel physiotherapy techniques versus 'standard' physiotherapy in patients with Parkinson's disease. Standard physiotherapy is defined as the type of therapy that the physiotherapist would usually use to treat Parkinson's disease. 2. To compare the efficacy and effectiveness of one physiotherapy technique versus a second form of physiotherapy.


Relevant trials were identified by electronic searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, ISI-SCI, AMED, MANTIS, REHABDATA, REHADAT, GEROLIT, Pascal, LILACS, MedCarib, JICST-EPlus, AIM, IMEMR, SIGLE, ISI-ISTP, DISSABS, Conference Papers Index, Aslib Index to Theses, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, the CentreWatch Clinical Trials listing service, the metaRegister of Controlled Trials,, CRISP, PEDro, NIDRR and NRR; and examination of the reference lists of identified studies and other reviews.


Only randomised controlled trials (RCT) were included.


Data was abstracted independently by KD and CEH and differences settled by discussion.


Seven trials were identified with 142 patients. All used small numbers of patients and the method of randomisation and concealment of allocation was poor or not statedin all of the trials. These methodological problems could potentially lead to bias from a number of sources. The methods of physiotherapy varied so widely that the data could not be combined.


Considering the small number of patients examined, the methodological flaws in many of the studies and the possibility of publication bias, there is insufficient evidence to support or refute the efficacy of any given form of physiotherapy over another in Parkinson's disease. Another Cochrane review, Physiotherapy for patients with Parkinson's Disease, found that there was insufficient evidence to support or refute the efficacy of physiotherapy compared to no physiotherapy in Parkinson's disease. A wide range of physiotherapy approaches were used in these studies and a survey of UK physiotherapists confirmed that they also use an eclectic combination of techniques in the treatment of Parkinson's disease (Plant 1999). Therefore a consensus must be found as to 'best practice' physiotherapy for Parkinson's disease. The efficacy of 'standard' physiotherapy should be proved first before examining variations in physiotherapy methods. Therefore large well designed randomised controlled trials are needed to judge the effect of physiotherapy in Parkinson's disease. After this large RCTs are needed to demonstrate the most effective form of physiotherapy in Parkinson's disease. Outcome measures with particular relevance to patients, carers, physiotherapists and physicians should be chosen and the patients monitored for at least 6 months to determine the duration of any effect. The trials should be reported according to CONSORT guidelines (CONSORT 1996).

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