Unity Walk > Parkinson's Foundation Research Grants 2020

 

 

Parkinson's Foundation is using its 2020 distribution to fund:

Unravelling the potential of specialized allied health therapy for patients with Parkinson’s Disease

Cognitive Correlates of Gait Impairment and Freezing in Parkinson's Disease

 

PROJECT TITLE:  Unravelling the potential of specialized allied health therapy for patients with Parkinson’s Disease

Investigators/Authors: Darweesh Sirwan, Radboud University Medical Centre

Objective: To explore three specific gaps in our knowledge of allied therapy in order to understand the most effective usage for people with Parkinson’s.

Background: The social and economic burden caused by Parkinson’s disease (PD) is expected to rise substantially in the coming decades, emphasizing the need to widely implement treatment modalities that have been proven to be effective for persons with PD. Recently, community-based Allied Health Therapy (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language therapy) delivered by specifically trained professionals has yielded beneficial effects on short-term functional outcomes in persons with PD.

Methods/Design: There are three key gaps in our present knowledge of allied therapy which hamper optimal and wider implementation of specialized Allied Health Therapy (AHT). This study will explore: 1) which patient subgroups are most likely to respond favorably to specialized AHT interventions; 2) whether parallel delivery of specialized therapy across multiple disciplines has additional benefits for patients; and 3) whether specialized Allied Health Therapy remains effective over longer periods (more than 5 years).

Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s disease: This project will address these critical gaps in knowledge of Allied therapy, thereby paving the way for personalized rehabilitation for those persons with PD who need it most.

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PROJECT TITLE:  Cognitive Correlates of Gait Impairment and Freezing in Parkinson's Disease

Investigators/Authors:  Kevin Wilkins, Stanford University

Objective: To investigate how the attention network in the brain relates to gait impairment and freezing in people with Parkinson’s.

Background: Gait impairment and freezing of gait affect nearly 75% of individuals with advanced Parkinson’s Disease (PD). There is growing evidence that these freezing may be due to a compromised attention-network in the brain that makes individuals more vulnerable to freezing in demanding environments that stress attention.

Methods/Design: We propose to investigate how a specific brain structure that is known to be the key node in the attention network relates to freezing and its worsening over time in PD. Additionally, we will simultaneously measure brain activity during gait tasks that are known to elicit freezing to investigate whether specific brain signals related to attention are also related to freezing and its worsening over time. Finally, we will see how both the brain structure and activity relate to validated cognitive tests for attention and similar cognitive processes.

Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s disease: Results from this proposal will allow us to disentangle what role attention may play in freezing behavior in PD, and possibly provide future targets for therapy.

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