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Stay mindfully active during the coronavirus pandemic: a feasibility study of mHealth-delivered mindfulness yoga program for people with Parkinson's disease

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. Feb 7;22(1):37. 2022
Kwok J.Y.Y.*, Lee J.J., Choi E.P.H., Chau P.H., Auyeung M.


Patients with long-term neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease (PD), are particularly vulnerable to the public health measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The inaccessibility of center-based rehabilitation further aggravated their motor dysfunctions as well as mental distress, leading to exacerbation of motor and non-motor symptoms, high healthcare utilization and worsened health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility, safety, and preliminary effects of the mHealth-delivered home-based mindfulness yoga program on functional balance, motor symptoms, mental health and HRQOL in patients with PD.

Design, setting and participants
This prospective, single-arm, non-randomized feasibility study adopted a sequential explanatory mixed-method design. Adults (aged ≥ 18) with a clinical diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson's disease (Hoehn and Yahr stage I to III) who were able to stand unaided and walk with or without an assistive device were enrolled via convenience sampling.

Home-based mindfulness yoga training were delivered via video-conferencing software (Zoom) in eight bi-weekly 90-min sessions.

Main outcomes and measures
This current study measured functional balance, motor symptoms, perceived balance confidence, perceived freezing of gait symptoms, anxiety and depression, mindfulness and HRQOL using a tele-assessment approach at baseline and 1-week post-intervention. All participants were invited to attend qualitative individual interviews to explore their experience of using online mindfulness yoga program as a lifestyle intervention for PD rehabilitation.

Among the ten patients, 80% completed the program with an adherence rate of 98.4%. All participants were able to learn and practice mindfulness yoga following the eight bi-weekly online mindfulness yoga training sessions, without any significant adverse events. Tele-assessment of outcomes were feasible and uneventful. Qualitative feedback revealed participants had a high preference of using the tele-rehabilitation approach to stay mindful and being active, both physically and socially, while confronting the changes brought by COVID-19 pandemic.

Conclusions and relevance
The mHealth-delivered home-based mindfulness yoga intervention was feasible, safe, and well-accepted among people with PD to relieve the burden brought by COVID-19 pandemic. Future studies should adopt a design with enhanced rigor, a comparison group, and enlarged sample size to evaluate the efficacy of the program in patients with long-term neurological conditions and/or physical impairments. We recommend a longer intervention duration of at least 8 weeks to enhance the psychophysiological effects.

Key Words: Home-based; Mindfulness; Parkinson’s disease; Physical exercise; Psychological support; Quality of life; Rehabilitation; Symptom management; Yoga; mHealth.

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(*Corresponding Author)