All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Matthew Ford

Advisory Committee Members

Scott Bickel

Cynthia Brown

Claire Peel

Kristen Triebel

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy (DScPT) School of Health Professions


Background and Purpose: Physical rehabilitation of individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is often complicated by impairments in explicit memory and learning. Rehabilitation strategies that facilitate use of the preserved implicit memory system may be effective in treating patients with AD. The purpose of this case series is to describe the application of these strategies, including high-repetition practice, errorless learning (EL), and spaced retrieval (SR), to the physical therapy management of individuals with moderate AD. Case Description: Three women aged 89 to 95 years old with moderate AD who resided in an assisted living facility participated in physical therapy to address their mobility limitations. Intervention: Twelve physical therapy sessions were scheduled over a period of 4 weeks. Interventions were individually designed to address the mobility needs of each patient, and rehabilitation strategies based on implicit learning principles were integrated into the interventions. Outcomes: All patients participated in at least 10 of the 12 physical therapy sessions. Improvements in performance of objective measures of balance were observed in all patients, although only one patient's balance score exceeded the minimal detectable change (MDC). No significant clinical change was observed in any patients on the Timed Up and Go test (TUG) or self-selected gait speed (ssGS). Discussion: Principles of implicit learning were integrated into the interventions for these patients with moderate AD. Further research on the effectiveness of EL, SR, and other rehabilitation strategies that facilitate implicit learning of mobility skills in patients with AD is needed to promote optimal physical therapy outcomes in this patient population.



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