Nordic Walking for People with Parkinson’s Disease.
Understanding the impact, accessibility, and diversity of Nordic Walking in People with Parkinson’s disease after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Supervisors: Dr Vicky Booth, PI, Dr Frances Allen, Prof Pip Logan. University of Nottingham.
Sarah’s MPhil research investigates the impact and accessibility of Nordic Walking (NW) in People with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) following the Covid-19 lockdown. People with Parkinson’s struggled to access PD services during lockdown and became physically deconditioned and some experienced anxiety, fear of going out, isolation, sleep disturbance and low mood. Nordic Walking was one of the first activities to re-start after the pandemic as it is delivered outdoors in groups with an instructor who has clinical experience in this field. Current rehabilitation programmes for People with Parkinson’s are delivered indoors, in a gym or at home, by physio and occupational therapists. Nordic walking started in Finland in the 1930’s when cross country skiers used their poles for summer training. NW utilises 90% of skeletal muscles and previous studies suggest NW is useful for improving gait, balance and posture in the presence of PD. In a feasibility study in 2020, McCracken et al noted an increased walking speed over 10 metres, increased Timed up and go over 3 metres, improvements in mental health from exercising outside, healing balm effect and the group effect that enhanced motivation and perseverance.
Click here to read the British Journal of Neuroscience Nursing article: Exploring the benefits and barriers to Nordic walking in people with Parkinson's disease
The aim of Sarah’s study is to explore the motor (physical) and non-motor (psychological) impact of an 8-week programme of Nordic Walking for People with Parkinson’s Disease. This will be completed by a review of the literature to explore current practice, working in partnership with British Nordic walking and Parkinson’s UK. 40-60 participants will be recruited, and outcome measures will be recorded at week 0, week 8 and at month 6 and 9. Timed up and go, 10 metre and 20 metre walk test, Tragus and Berg balance (for some participants) will be recorded. The non-motor scale questionnaire will be completed at the same time points and field notes will be recorded. Three focus groups will be held during the recruitment phase, addressing this research question:
What are the characteristics and core components needed to implement Nordic Walking groups for People with Parkinson’s in a community rehabilitation setting?
Thematic analysis will assist in developing themes that will influence the role out of future Nordic walking rehabilitation programmes, facilitated by a clinician with Nordic walking instructor training, or a Nordic walking instructor with specific Parkinson’s experience and training. Sarah says:
“Working with the National Rehabilitation Centre provides an exciting opportunity to deliver innovative, evidence-based rehabilitation in a non-clinical, outdoor setting. In a post Covid world there is scope for safer rehabilitation programmes of Nordic walking, delivered by NW Instructors or clinicians with a breadth of skills and knowledge specific to Parkinson’s Disease. The NRC offers potential for extensive partnerships with key stakeholders including the NHS, Parkinson’s UK and British Nordic Walking."
Following 17 years as a Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist, and a total of 31 years nursing, her MPhil offers new challenges and opportunities:
“I’ve had the vision for this rehabilitation programme for several years since I started park run, Nordic walking and I’ve always had a passion for skiing. I feel uniquely placed to investigate this clinically relevant research question and, potentially, to drive forward changes in future patient care. I am enjoying the opportunity to develop my skills within research, as I explore a clinical academic career.”