Effectiveness of aquatic therapy for the control of pain and increased function in people with Parkinson's disease: a randomized clinical trial 


Journal: European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (2017).

            December; 53(6): 825-32. 


Authors: Sagrario Pérez de la Cruz


This RCT showed the effects of Ai Chi therapy compared to land therapy on pain perception, standing balance and the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) scale of 30 participants with Parkinson’s Disease (1 to 3 on Hoehn and Yahr Scale), 15 people in each of the experimental group. Although pain perception is described to be their primary measure in the study, they also assessed balance function through Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Tinetti Scale, Five Times Sit to Stand Scale (FTSTS), Timed Up and Go Test (TUG); and UPDRS. The treatment duration in both groups was a 45-min session twice a week, for 10 weeks, consisted of warm-up, main therapy, and cool-down. The Ai Chi program consisted of 35-min of 19 movements (trunk rotation, standing balance, single-legged balance, all repeated with an emphasis on functional reaching – postural responses to external perturbations). The land therapy consisted of 25-min strength and aerobic exercises (individually and in group).

Results: Pain perception decreased significantly in both treatment groups with 1.5 VAS point change in the Ai Chi group, which was kept at 1-month follow-up. The land therapy group improved 0.5 point and did not maintain in the follow-up. Balance function (BBS and TUG) improved only in the Ai Chi group and gains were kept at follow-up.

Take Home Message:Participants in 20 sessions of Ai Chi reported improved pain perception and demonstrated significant improvement in balance that was maintained 1 month after program completion.