Individuals with Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) and Huntington's disease (HD) experience
balance and walking problems that lead to falls. Treadmill walking has demonstrated
improvements in balance and walking and fall risk in individuals with Parkinson's disease
(PD), suggesting that it may be beneficial for individuals with DLB and HD. In PD subjects,
changes in gait parameters have been noted after only one treadmill training session. The
investigators propose a pilot study to investigate the safety, feasibility, and utility to
improve mobility and fall risk of a single session of treadmill walking in individuals with
DLB and HD.
Several studies using HD animal models have shown that HD mice housed in enriched
environments or in cages with running wheels that stimulated physical activity demonstrated
a delayed onset and/or slowed decline in motor function compared to mice in non-enriched
environments (van Dellen et al. 2000, 2008; Spires et al., 2004). Evidence suggests that
aerobic exercise may have neuroprotective effects and helps the elderly and individuals with
neurodegenerative diseases to maintain better cognitive and motor function than those who
are inactive. More specifically, there is strong evidence from animal and human trials in
neurological populations (i.e., Parkinson's Disease, spinal cord injury, and stroke) that
treadmill training can improve walking and motor function. Immediate effects of a
single-session of treadmill walking in the Parkinson's Disease population were improved
over-ground gait measures (i.e., gait speed, stride length, double support percent, stride
variability) and longer term treadmill training studies demonstrated additional improvements
in Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale scores, fall risk, and health-related quality of
life (Herman et al., 2008). This study builds upon foundational knowledge gained in animals
and other neurologic populations to determine the feasibility, safety and possible immediate
benefit of treadmill walking in individuals with HD.
The primary purpose of this pilot study is to investigate the the safety, feasibility and
utility of a single 20-minute session of treadmill walking to improve gait parameters in
ambulatory individuals with DLB and HD. Secondarily we will explore the effects of treadmill
walking on mobility, fall risk, and motor coordination. Based on previous studies utilizing
a single-session of treadmill training in the PD population, we hypothesize that treadmill
walking will improve overground spatiotemporal gait parameters (gait speed, stride length,
double support percent, and stride-to-stride variations in gait) in individuals with DLB and
HD (Pohl et al., 2003; Frenkel-Toledo et al., 2005; Bello et al., 2008).
- diagnosis of Huntington's disease or Dementia with Lewy Bodies,
- the ability to ambulate 80 feet without assistance, and
- the ability to provide informed consent and understand directions.
- presence of any clinically significant musculoskeletal or neurological disease that
would affect gait.