Purpose: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the United States. A preponderance of evidence supports exercise and physical activity as an effective intervention to slow the progression of motor symptoms in persons with PD. However, less study has been given to the influence of non-motor symptoms of PD, such as apathy and grit, on adherence to therapeutic exercise programs. The primary aim of this study was to characterize levels of apathy and grit in individuals with PD and explore any relationship to adherence in a community exercise program. Due to the importance of caregiver interaction, this study also examined the non-cognitive traits of caregivers of persons with PD. Methods: A descriptive cohort design was used and a convenience sample of individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers attending a Parkinson’s support group was collected. Results: A total of N=14 participants were included in this study. Levels of grit between persons with PD and caregiver demonstrated a weak positive correlation (rpb = 0.34, p = 0.23). No significant relationships were found between apathy and exercise attendance for PD (r = -0.10, p = 0.83), or among grit and exercise attendance (r = 0.24, p = 0.60). Levels of grit in PD was significantly and negatively related to apathy of caregivers (r = - 0.78, p = 0.04). Grit scores between caregivers and levels of apathy in persons with PD was significantly correlated (r = 0.84, p = 0.02). Findings suggest underlying relationships may exist between levels of grit, apathy, and adherence to exercise programs for persons with PD. Conclusion: Further research into the non-motor aspects of PD and their caregivers is warranted. The caregiver relationship plays a critical role in caring for persons with PD and may impact one’s adherence to therapeutic exercise.
The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution and expertise of Melanie Lomaglio, PT, DPT who led and designed the Parkinson's community exercise program discussed in this article as well as assisted with participant recruitment.
Kiernan EJ, Pucillo EM, Wiedman CM. Influence of Apathy and Grit on Exercise Adherence for Persons with Parkinson’s Disease: A Cohort Study. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2023 Sep 21;21(4), Article 14.