BACKGROUND: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder with a wide range of motor and non-motor symptoms. Despite optimal medical management, PD still results in a high disability rate and secondary complications and many patients lead a sedentary lifestyle, which in turn is also associated with a higher co-morbidity and mortality. Exercise has been explored as a strategy to reduce secondary complications and results suggests that it not only provides general health benefits, but may also provide symptomatic relief. If this holds true exercise would be a very attractive addition to the therapeutic arsenal in PD. The supportive evidence remains incomplete. Here, we describe the design of the Park-in-Shape study, which primarily aims to evaluate whether aerobic exercise affords clinically relevant improvements in motor symptoms in sedentary PD patients. A specific new element is the introduction of gaming to optimize compliance to the exercise intervention.
METHODS/DESIGN: The Park-in-Shape study is a randomized controlled, assessor- and patient-blinded single center study. Two parallel groups will include a total of 130 patients, receiving either aerobic exercise on a home trainer equipped with gaming elements ("exergaming"), or a non-aerobic intervention (stretching, flexibility and relaxation exercises). Both groups are supported by a specifically designed motivational app that uses gaming elements to stimulate patients to exercise and rewards them after having completed the exercise. Both interventions are delivered at home at least 3 times a week for 30-45 minutes during 6 months. Eligible patients are community-dwelling, sedentary patients diagnosed with mild-moderate PD. The primary outcome is the MDS-UPDRS motor score (tested in the off state) after 6 months. Secondary outcomes include various motor and non-motor symptoms, quality of life, physical fitness, and adherence.
DISCUSSION: This Park-in-Shape study is anticipated to answer the question whether high intensity aerobic exercise combined with gaming elements ("exergaming") provides symptomatic relief in PD. Strong elements include the double-blinded randomized controlled trial design, the MDS-UPDRS as valid primary outcome, the large sample size and unique combination of home-based pure aerobic exercise combined with gaming elements and motivational aspects.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Dutch trial register NTR4743.