The Parkinson’s Fitness Project | Self – Assessment: 4 Simple Ways to Keep You on Track!

Self – Assessment: 4 Simple Ways to Keep You on Track!

Self –Assessment: 4 Simple Tests to Keep You on Track

I can only imagine how frustrating it must feel to have a diagnosis like Parkinson’s Disease.  Being told you have a progressive disease can be unnerving and make you feel like your body is out of your hands.  Part of my role as a Physical Therapist is to teach people how to take some control over their disease.  We know that exercise is one way that people can help slow the progression of the disease and fight against the symptoms of Parkinson’s.  But how can you tell if you’re winning the battle?

 I try to give everyone who works with me some simple ways to monitor their function through tests called “outcome measures” that everyone can easily perform at home to check  regularly and give them back some control and awareness of how they are moving over time.  These tests have all been proven to monitor physical function and can be tested within most home environments.  I want you all to feel like you have the keys to monitor your own symptoms and take charge back over the disease.   You can use these tests to see how you function on different medications, at different times of day, with changes to diet and new exercise routines.  Feel free to share this information with your health care providers in order to keep them informed as well.  

 The four tests below are easily performed at home and should be performed every 3 months.  The numbers in bold lettering will help you compare to see when you have made significant improvements and whether you are at risk for falls.  Use the Self-Assessment tracker provided to log your progress over time.  Hopefully, you can use these tests to see improvement in function over time with optimized medications, nutrition and exercise!!!

*** Having a Loved One or Caregiver record times as you perform these tests is the best way to get quality measurements.

Self-Assessment Tracking Sheet


Timed Up and Go:

Assesses your mobility, balance, walking ability and fall risk


– Stand from a kitchen chair, walk 10 feet, turn around, walk back and sit down as quickly and  safely as possible

– Timing begins when you start to stand and ends when you sit completely into the chair.

Risk for Falls > 11.5 sec

Significant Change: 4.85 sec

5x Sit to Stand:

Assesses your leg strength and speed of transfers


Sit with arms folded across chest and with back against the chair. Stand and sit 5 times as quickly as you can.

– Timing begins at “Go” and ends when the buttocks touches the chair after the 5th repetition.

Risk for Falls (age dependent)

Significant Change: 2.3 seconds or greater


10 meter walking speed:

Assesses your normal walking speed


-Walk without assistance 10 meters (32.8 feet) at a comfortable speed. The time is measured for the intermediate 6 meters (19.7 feet) to allow for acceleration and deceleration

-Start timing when the toes of the leading foot crosses the 2-meter mark.

-Stop timing when the toes of the leading foot crosses the 8-meter mark.

-Assistive devices can be used but should be kept consistent and documented from test to test

– Calculate your speed in total meters (6m) divided by time in seconds (m/s)

Significant Change: 0.18 m/s (0.6 ft/sec)


4 square step test:  

Assesses your ability to step over objects forward, sideways and backwards


– Stand  in square 1 facing square number 2 (see figure below). You are required to step as fast as possible into each square in the following sequence: 2, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3, 2, and 1

– Equipment required includes a stopwatch and 4 canes/broomsticks or place tape on the ground.



Average time: 8.73-12.56 sec

Increased risk for falls > Greater than 9.68 sec

Single Leg Stance Time

Assesses balance in standing


Stand on one leg with a timer starting when the opposite foot leaves the ground and ending when that foot returns to the ground.

Risk For Falls <10 sec

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