BACKGROUND: Patients with Parkinson's disease exhibit disturbed manual dexterity. This impairment leads to difficulties in activities of daily living, such as buttoning a shirt or hand-writing. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effectiveness of a home-based dexterity program on fine motor skills in a single-blinded, randomized controlled trial, in patients with Parkinson's disease.
METHODS: One hundred and three patients with Parkinson's disease (aged between 48 and 80 years, Hoehn & Yahr stage I-IV) were randomized to either a home-based dexterity program (HOMEDEXT) or Thera-band program. All patients trained over a period of 4 weeks, 5 times/week, 30 min for each session. A baseline, post-intervention, and follow-up assessment (12 weeks later, time period without intervention) were done. The primary outcome measure was dexterity as measured with the Nine Hole peg test (9-HPT). Secondary outcome measures included strength, motor parkinsonian symptoms, dexterity-related activities of daily living (ADL) and Health-related Quality of Life (HrQoL).
RESULTS: There was a significant difference in favor of the HOMEDEXT group as compared to the Thera-band group on the primary outcome 9-HPT (p = 0.006) and dexterity-related ADL (p = 0.02) at post intervention. No significant differences were found for the other outcomes, nor at follow-up.
CONCLUSION: This is the first randomized controlled trial showing that an intensive, task specific home-based dexterity program significantly improved fine motor skills in Parkinson's disease. The effect generalized to dexterity-related ADL functions. As these improvements did not sustain, the finding suggest that continuous training is required to maintain the benefit.