Acute effects of passive leg cycling on upper extremity tremor and bradykinesia in Parkinson’s disease

A. Ridgel, M. Muller, C. Kim, E. Fickes, T. Mera
Phys Sportsmed. 2011 Sep;39(3):83-93



Previous studies have shown that single bouts of high-rate active cycling (> 80 rpm) improve upper extremity motor function in individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD). It is unknown if passive leg cycling produces a similar effect on upper extremity function. This article examines whether passive leg cycling can promote immediate changes in upper tremor and bradykinesia in PD and if pedaling rates have variable effects.


Twenty individuals with mild-to-moderate idiopathic PD completed 4 sessions, with each session taking place 1 week apart. In the second to fourth sessions, a motorized bicycle was set to passively rotate the subjects’ legs at rates of 60, 70, or 80 rpm for 30 minutes. Quantitative upper extremity motor assessments were completed immediately before and after each session.


Passive leg cycling was shown to reduce tremor and bradykinesia in PD. However, the rate of passive cycling did not affect the degree of improvement in bradykinesia or tremor.


These findings suggest that lower extremity passive cycling can promote changes in upper extremity motor function in individuals with PD.

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