Parkinson’s Disease has devastating effects on people’s mobility and motor skills, but a new study is looking at ways exercise might help retrain the brains of patients who have the nervous system disorder.
Perth’s Hollywood Private Hospital is researching the impact of an exercise regime called the ‘PD Warrior program’, which involves intensive exercises designed to help participants gain better control over their movements.
Announced as part of the hospital’s contribution to Parkinson’s Awareness Month – held globally every April – the study is being conducted by neurologist Dr Julian Rodrigues and neurological physiotherapist Claire Tucak.
Ms Tucak said the program had the potential to be a game-changer for patients with Parkinson’s, but there were no published studies yet on the outcomes of the therapy.
“We hope the comparative data we collect in this pilot study will confirm the good outcomes we have seen so far with the program,” she said.
“A stronger evidence base defining the objective benefits will allow patients and doctors to make an informed decision as to whether to participate.”
The study will provide data on both subjective and objective outcomes, such as quality of life and mobility and balance, before and after a 10-week PD Warrior program, Ms Tucak said, and the results are expected at the end of 2021.
The rehabilitation program has been running for four years at Ramsay HealthpPlus Hollywood at the Nedlands campus. The hospital has been training new instructors, while 20 new patients have recently joined.
“The program continues to expand, with more exercise classes added to the schedule due to demand,” Ms Tucak said. “Some participants have been attending weekly classes for a few years.”
April is also Falls Awareness Month – and Hollywood Private Hospital is starting another study to investigate the impact of falls among older patients on their family carers.
About 180 family carers and patients will be recruited for the questionnaire-led research, which is due to begin in June 2021.
If successful, the questionnaire will be used as an alternative risk assessment tool to predict the fall risk of older patients from the perspective of their family carers.
“We hope to understand more about the falls experiences of family carers before, during and after hospitalisation of older patients,” Edith Cowan University Nurse Researcher Marcus Ang said.
Hollywood Director of Clinical Services Karen Gullick said research such as the falls study was important for improving patient outcomes.
“We are fortunate to have nurses and allied health staff leading research projects that improve patient care,” Ms Gullick said.