Falls are an important cause of injury and increased hospital/long-term care facility stays and has been reported in 70% of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), yet there is limited effectiveness of medications for reducing falls. As an adjunct, many exercise therapies succeed in objectively reducing the number of falls, but this may not translate to improved quality of life (QOL). Importantly, self-perceived fall risk has a greater influence on activities of daily living and QOL, making it important to evaluate in the rehabilitation of PD. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of a 10-week exercise intervention (PD SAFE × TM) on self-perceived (according to balance confidence measures) and objective measures of gait that are commonly linked to fall risk in PD. Participants (N
= 44) with PD completed PD SAFE × TM. Pre-/post-assessment involved the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale (perception), objective falls characteristics (stride time, stride width, stride length, and stride variability), and symptom severity (Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale motor subsection III (UPDRS-III)) after participants were stratified into a mild (no-balance impairment) vs. severe (balance impairment) groups. Overall disease severity (F (1, 43) = 8.75, p
< 0.003) and all objective fall parameters improved (p
< 0.05) in both groups, yet self-perceived fall risk improved in only the severe PD group F (1, 43) = 9.86, p
< 0.022. Given that self-perceived fall risk and objective fall risk both play a role in the quality of life, identifying strategies to improve both aspects may be important in improving the overall quality of life.
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