OBJECTIVES: Gait and mobility problems are difficult to treat in people with Parkinson's disease. The Rehabilitation in Parkinson's Disease: Strategies for Cueing (RESCUE) trial investigated the effects of a home physiotherapy programme based on rhythmical cueing on gait and gait-related activity.
METHODS: A single-blind randomised crossover trial was set up, including 153 patients with Parkinson's disease aged between 41 and 80 years and in Hoehn and Yahr stage II-IV. Subjects allocated to early intervention (n = 76) received a 3-week home cueing programme using a prototype cueing device, followed by 3 weeks without training. Patients allocated to late intervention (n = 77) underwent the same intervention and control period in reverse order. After the initial 6 weeks, both groups had a 6-week follow-up without training. Posture and gait scores (PG scores) measured at 3, 6 and 12 weeks by blinded testers were the primary outcome measure. Secondary outcomes included specific measures on gait, freezing and balance, functional activities, quality of life and carer strain.
RESULTS: Small but significant improvements were found after intervention of 4.2% on the PG scores (p = 0.005). Severity of freezing was reduced by 5.5% in freezers only (p = 0.007). Gait speed (p = 0.005), step length (p<0.001) and timed balance tests (p = 0.003) improved in the full cohort. Other than a greater confidence to carry out functional activities (Falls Efficacy Scale, p = 0.04), no carry-over effects were observed in functional and quality of life domains. Effects of intervention had reduced considerably at 6-week follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS: Cueing training in the home has specific effects on gait, freezing and balance. The decline in effectiveness of intervention effects underscores the need for permanent cueing devices and follow-up treatment. Cueing training may be a useful therapeutic adjunct to the overall management of gait disturbance in Parkinson's disease.