The fall is an exciting time of year at the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. The foundations benefiting from the funds raised at the Unity Walk submit their research proposals for the current year as well as provide updates on research projects conducted for the past two years. Proposals and updates are posted here on our website and available to all.
Research funded by the 2014 Unity Walk focuses on a wide range of topics. We continue to fund research that will take us closer to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease and at the same time, fund research that will improve the quality of life of those who are living with Parkinson’s.
Here are just a few examples:
Levodopa-induced dyskinesia is one of the most debilitating symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation is funding a research project to determine if a specific calcium channel in the brain contributes to Levodopa-induced dyskinesia, and whether silencing, or blocking this channel can alleviate these symptoms. If the research supports their hypothesis, it will provide a critical scientific rationale for design of clinical trials of current and new drugs to block this channel.
Research has proven that exercise improves the quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s disease but what kind of exercise will improve cognitive functioning, balance deficits, and aid in prevention of falls and injuries in PD? These are the specifics that the National Parkinson Foundation will study to compare the effects of skill-based vs. aerobic exercise vs. a control group. Post exercise changes in cardiovascular fitness, as well as executive functioning and cognition will be measured. Their hypothesis is that skill-based exercise will have the greatest improvement in executive functioning and lead to modification of the brain. We are interested to see what the research finds.
Currently, changes to Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) only take place during a clinical appointment or within small ranges by a patient at home. What if research can help develop an adaptive or “intelligent” DBS that would record brain activity in real time and adjust the stimulation that responds to real time recordings of a patient’s movement and brain? The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is using their funds to study this question; they will use a research tool to establish a connection between the implanted neuro-stimulator and an external computer that will allow for recording of brain activity in real time. The results of this research will help create the next generation of embedded adaptive neuro-stimulators used in DBS treatment.
Learn more about additional research projects funded by the 2014 Parkinson’s Unity Walk grants. It is your donations that make this research possible. Thank you for your continued support!
By Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director