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Efficacy and Feasibility of Remote Cognitive Remediation Therapy in Parkinson's Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

BACKGROUND: Non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD) such as cognitive impairment are common and decrease patient quality of life and daily functioning. While no pharmacological treatments have effectively alleviated these symptoms to date, non-pharmacological approaches such as cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) and physical exercise have both been shown to improve cognitive function and quality of life in people with PD.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to determine the feasibility and impact of remote CRT on cognitive function and quality of life in patients with PD participating in an organized group exercise program.

METHODS: Twenty-four subjects with PD recruited from Rock Steady Boxing (RSB), a non-contact group exercise program, were evaluated using standard neuropsychological and quality of life measures and randomized to the control or intervention group. The intervention group attended online CRT sessions for one hour, twice a week for 10 weeks, engaging in multi-domain cognitive exercises and group discussion.

RESULTS: Twenty-one subjects completed the study and were reevaluated. Comparing groups over time, the control group ( n  = 10) saw a decline in overall cognitive performance that trended towards significance ( p = 0.05) and a statistically significant decrease in delayed memory ( p = 0.010) and self-reported cognition ( p = 0.011). Neither of these findings were seen in the intervention group ( n  = 11), which overwhelmingly enjoyed the CRT sessions and attested to subjective improvements in their daily lives.

CONCLUSIONS: This randomized controlled pilot study suggests that remote CRT for PD patients is feasible, enjoyable, and may help slow the progression of cognitive decline. Further trials are warranted to determine the longitudinal effects of such a program.

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