The effectiveness of physiotherapy treatment on balance dysfunction and postural instability in persons with Parkinson's disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Asmare Yitayeh, Amare Teshome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Balance dysfunction and postural instability in Parkinson's disease are among the most relevant determinants of an impaired quality of life. Physiotherapy interventions are essential to reduce the level of disability by treating balance dysfunction and postural instability. The aim of this systematic review with meta-analysis was to test the effectiveness of conventional physiotherapy interventions in the management of balance dysfunction and postural instability in Persons with idiopathic Parkinson's disease. Method: A systematic literature search of the Cochrane Library, PubMed/Medline, PEDro, Rehadat, and Rehab Trials were performed by 2 reviewers (AY and AT) independently. Eligible randomised controlled trials published from September 2005 to June 2015 were included. The selected RCTs, which investigated the effects of conventional physiotherapy treatments in the management of postural instability and balance dysfunction in Persons with Parkinson's disease, were assessed on a methodological quality rating scale. Included studies differed clearly from each other with regard to patient characteristics, intervention protocol, and outcome measures. Important characteristics and outcomes were extracted, summarized and analyzed. Results: Eight trials with a total of 483 participants were eligible for inclusion of which 5 trials provide data for meta-analysis. Benefits from conventional physiotherapy treatment were reported for all of the outcomes assessed. The pooled estimates of effects showed significantly improved berg balance scale (SMD, 0.23; 95 % CI, 0.10-0.36; P < 0.001) after exercise therapy, in comparison with no exercise or sham treatment. Exercise interventions specifically addressing components of balance dysfunction demonstrated the largest efficacy with moderate effect size (SMD, 5.98; 95 % CI, 2.29-9.66; P < 0.001). Little effects were observed for interventions that specifically targeted Falls efficacy scale. The pooled data indicated that physiotherapy exercises decreased the incidence of falling by 6.73 (95 % CI: -14. 00, 0.54, p = 0.07) with the overall effect of Z = 1.81. Conclusion: Physiotherapy interventions like balance training combined with muscle strengthening, the range of movement and walking training exercise is effective in improving balance in patients with Parkinson's disease and more effective than balance exercises alone. Highly challenging balance training and incremental speed-dependent treadmill training can also be part of a rehabilitation program for management of balance dysfunction and Postural instability in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Balance dysfunction
  • Equilibrium
  • Exercise
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Physiotherapy
  • Postural control
  • Postural instability
  • Randomized controlled trials
  • Rehabilitation

Cite this