Exercise therapy for Parkinson’s disease

Researchers at James Cook University and La Trobe University are working on making life better for people with Parkinson’s disease by developing a new exercise program.

Moira Smith, lecturer in physiotherapy at JCU, said Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition affecting the ability to control movement.

“People with Parkinson’s disease may have symptoms such as tremors, slowness of movement and rigidity. It affects one in every 308 people in Australia,” said Ms Smith.

“The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease occur due to a reduction in dopamine, which is a chemical in the brain. We don’t know why this happens but think it may be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.”

She said the researchers will explore the effects of exercise on movement and balance for people living with Parkinson’s disease. The team is looking for people with Parkinson’s disease who can walk and perform gymnasium exercises to join a new study.

Lead researcher and Parkinson’s disease expert, Professor Meg Morris from La Trobe University, said it is important for people with Parkinson’s disease to stay active in order to delay progression of the disease and maintain mobility.

“We have carried out similar studies where exercise has improved mobility and reduced falls in people with Parkinson’s disease. Much of this research in Australia has taken place in temperate climates such as Melbourne. So, we would like to explore the benefits of exercise for people with Parkinson’s disease in the tropical climate of Townsville,” said Professor Morris.

Volunteers will progress through a 12-week exercise program either at JCU or at home. Exercises may include aerobic, strengthening or flexibility training twice per week.

Ms Smith said the program will start in September 2020 at JCU.

Anyone who meets the study’s criteria and would like to participate can contact Ms Smith on 07 4781 6003 or moira.smith2@jcu.edu.au or Professor Morris at m.morris@latrobe.edu.au

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