Australia Universities Collaborate on Parkinson’s Exercise Study

Australia Universities Collaborate on Parkinson’s Exercise Study
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Scientists at two Australia universities are developing a program that will study the effects of exercise on movement and balance in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers at James Cook University (JCU) and La Trobe University are seeking ambulatory patients who are able to perform twice-weekly exercises that may include aerobics plus strengthening or flexibility training. The 12-week program is expected to start next month at JCU. Participants also may exercise at home.

“People with Parkinson’s disease may have symptoms such as tremors, slowness of movement, and rigidity,” Moira Smith, a JCU physiotherapy lecturer, said in a press release. “It affects one in every 308 people in Australia. 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.”

Parkinson’s affects the brain, resulting in gradual loss of coordination and movement. Exercise is important because it slows disease progression and helps patients maintain or improve balance, mobility, posture, gait, and the ability to perform daily routines. It also can reduce depression, stress, and anxiety.

Research has found that Parkinson’s patients who exercise for at least 2.5 hours weekly also experience a slower decline in their quality of life. Parkinson’s-related exercise should include activities that increase flexibility, such as stretching, aerobics, and either resistance or strength training, scientists say.

“We have carried out similar studies where exercise has improved mobility and reduced falls in people with Parkinson’s disease,” said lead project researcher Meg Morris, a La Trobe University professor. “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.”

Those who are interested in joining the study, or who have questions about it, may write Smith at [email protected], or Morris at [email protected].

Parkinson’s is the second-most common age-related neurodegenerative disorder, after Alzheimer’s disease. An estimated seven to 10 million individuals globally have Parkinson’s.

Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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Ana holds a PhD in Immunology from the University of Lisbon and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) in Lisbon, Portugal. She graduated with a BSc in Genetics from the University of Newcastle and received a Masters in Biomolecular Archaeology from the University of Manchester, England. After leaving the lab to pursue a career in Science Communication, she served as the Director of Science Communication at iMM.
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Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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