Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)


Kinesiology and Physical Education


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Quincy Almeida

Advisor Role



Previous research has proposed that the somatosensory feedback generated during exercise is a key component in regards to the mechanism underlying the therapeutic effects of exercise on the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). This thesis aimed to further examine the contributions of different forms of somatosensory feedback during exercise in PD in order to understand the mechanism for symptom improvements that certain exercise studies report.

This randomized, controlled exercise study consisted of three treadmill groups, with the RATE and MAGNITUDE groups serving as the experimental conditions, while the CONTROL condition was an active comparator treadmill walking group. The RATE group attempted to elicit a rapid sampling rate from somatosensory afferents by having participants walk at a high cadence. The MAGNITUDE group attempted to generate a signal from somatosensory receptors that was larger or richer in magnitude by having participants wear ankle weights with the premise that the additional weight would cause tension sensitive golgi tendon organs to increase signaling. The CONTROL treadmill group served as an active comparator control group where participants walked regularly. Each condition finished with 13 participants with idiopathic PD.

All treadmill groups trained at the same aerobic intensity, duration, and frequency. however, only the RATE group improved in the primary outcome measure (motor section of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS-III)) after exercise. Furthermore, this same condition improved on the upper limb score of the UPDRS-III, possibly indicative of an overall improvement in basal ganglia (BG) functioning. Main effects of time were reported for step length in velocity across all treadmill training groups during both self-paced and maximal walking speeds. No changes in any measures of postural control were detected.

This study demonstrates that exercise that generates a high rate of somatosensory feedback from appears to be the most capable of improving motor symptoms of PD. Furthermore, gait improvements from treadmill training were independent of improvements in UPDRS-III, and are likely an effect of motor learning.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season