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Phase I randomized single-blinded controlled study investigating the potential benefit of aerobic exercise in degenerative cerebellar disease [with consumer summary]
Barbuto S, Martelli D, Omofuma IB, Lee N, Kuo SH, Agrawal S, Lee S, O'Dell M, Stein J
Clinical Rehabilitation 2020 May;34(5):584-594
clinical trial
8/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: Yes; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: Yes; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: Yes; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether people with cerebellar degeneration can perform rigorous aerobic exercise and to assess the clinical impact of training. DESIGN: Randomized single-blinded controlled, feasibility study comparing aerobic training to no training. SETTING: Home intervention, assessments conducted at an academic medical center. SUBJECTS: Twenty individuals with cerebellar degeneration caused by a range of genetic disorders. INTERVENTION: Aerobic training consisted of four weeks of stationary bicycle training, five times per week for 30-minute sessions. Intensity ranged from 65% to 80% of the participant's maximal heart rate determined during cardiopulmonary exercise testing. MAIN MEASURES: Primary outcome measure was change in the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia scores. Recruitment rate, adherence, drop-out, and adverse events were also determined. The treatment was considered technically feasible if participants achieved target training frequency, duration, and intensity. RESULTS: The 20 participants mean age was 50 years (standard deviation 15.65 years) and average Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia score was 9.6 (standard deviation 3.13). Ten participants were randomized to aerobic training and 10 to no training. Seven participants in the aerobic group attained target training duration, frequency, and intensity. There was a mean reduction in ataxia severity of 2.1 points (standard deviation 1.26) with four weeks of aerobic training, whereas ataxia severity increased by 0.3 (standard deviation 0.62) in the control group over the same period. Walking speed, balance measures, and fitness also improved in individuals who performed aerobic exercise. CONCLUSIONS: Rigorous aerobic training is feasible in people with cerebellar degeneration. Improvements in ataxia, balance, and gait are promising.

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