A retrospective evaluation of the Brain and Body Fitness Studio service on functional capacity and quality of life in people with neurological disorders

Joyce S. Ramos, Ranjay Chakraborty, Lance C. Dalleck, Kristina Sarunic, Jyoti Khadka, Tayla Haslam, Olivia Nassaris

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Background: People with neurological disorders (ND) are less physically active than the general population due to physical, sensory, and/or cognitive impairments. These individuals often feel intimidated to join mainstream health and wellness centers due to lack of specialized support for people with ND. The Brain and Body Fitness Studio (BBFS) is one of the first Accredited Exercise Physiologist-led interprofessional services in Adelaide South Australia to provide individualized evidence-based multimodal exercise prescription and social support for this population. This comprehensive retrospective study evaluated the impact of BBFS on functional capacity (FC) determined as the 6-min walk distance (6 MWD) achieved during a 6-min walk test (6 MWT), of its members with ND. 

Methods: Sixty-two BBFS members (age, 66 ± 10 years; 60% male) with ND (85% Parkinson's Disease; average time since diagnosis, 4 years [IQR, 2 to 12 years]) and complete pre- and post-6-month clinical assessment of the primary outcome of the study, the 6 MWD, were included in this retrospective analysis. A series of sub-analyses were also performed to investigate the effects of adherence to the recommended prescription of at least twice a week in the program (≥80 vs. < 80% adherence), and disease stage (time since diagnosis; ≥6 vs. < 6 years) on FC. 

Results: Although there was no statistically significant change in 6 MWD from pre- to post-6-month BBFS program (+15 ± 90 m, p = 0.19), a clinically meaningful improvement of >14 m was evident. Improvement in 6 MWD was significantly greater in members who attended at least 80% of the recommended visits (≥80% visits, +37 ± 58 m; ≤ 80% visits,−1 ± 105 m, p = 0.046). We also found a 6 MWD improvement from pre- to post-6 months in those in the early years of their ND (< 6 years since diagnosis, +39 ± 76 m), but not in those in the later years of their ND (≥6 years since diagnosis, −36 ± 123 m, between group difference, p = 0.029).

Conclusion: A clinically meaningful 6 MWD improvement may be elicited by services provided by BBFS in people with ND. Overall, the benefits appear to be more evident in members who attended the BBFS for at least 80% of the recommended visits and those who were in the early stage of their ND diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1006221
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2023


  • disease progression
  • exercise
  • fitness
  • functional capacity
  • mobility
  • neurological disorder
  • Parkinson's disease quality of life


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