Alongside our groundbreaking research to develop better treatments and a cure we also fund research to improve quality of life.
Our research projects
As well as searching for a cure, we fund essential research that aims to understand and improve life for people with Parkinson's in the shorter term.
Researcher Dr Emily Henderson explains how her Parkinson's UK-funded study has highlighted the potential of a common dementia drug to improve balance and prevent falls.
Tackling swallowing problems
Dr Emilia Michou at the University of Manchester explains why many people with Parkinson's find it difficult to swallow, and how her Parkinson's UK-funded research aims to help.
TOWARDS TREATMENTS FOR PARKINSON'S DEMENTIA
Parkinson’s dementia is a condition that some people can experience as their Parkinson’s progresses. Symptoms can include problems with thinking and memory, confusion, and difficulties with day-to-day tasks.
Professor Roger Barker, from the University of Cambridge, believes new treatments that are being developed hold great promise for preventing the thinking and memory problems that affect people with Parkinson’s.
In this project, the team aims to develop a new model of Parkinson's dementia that they will then use to test a drug that has previously been shown to protect nerve cells and may slow dementia.
Helping people learn new movements
Dr Ned Jenkinson has already discovered that although people with Parkinson’s do learn new movements perfectly well, they can find it more difficult to retain these newly-learned skills. This may mean the benefits of therapies that involve motor learning like physiotherapy may be more short-lived in people with Parkinson’s.
Ned and his team at the University of Birmingham will combine reward learning and brain stimulation to see if these techniques can help people with Parkinson's overcome difficulties with learning new movements.
Addressing pain in Parkinson's
More than half of all people with Parkinson's experience chronic pain. Despite this, there has not been much research on pain in Parkinson's.
Dr Monty Silverdale, from the University of Manchester, wants to increase our understanding of this symptom and find out why some people with Parkinson’s experience chronic pain and how we might be able to treat it. Some research suggests that pain in Parkinson’s is mainly due to bone and joint problems caused by motor symptoms.
However, Monty thinks there may be a different reason – changes in the way pain signals are communicated through the central nervous system. His project will investigate if the area of the brain responding to pain is also overactive in people with Parkinson’s.
Can physical activity prevent falls?
Staying physically active is vital for keeping mind and body generally fit and healthy. And now there is a growing awareness that exercise is especially important for people with Parkinson’s. It may even help to prevent one of the most devastating aspects of Parkinson’s – falls – which are extremely difficult to manage. Dr Katherine Baker, from Northumbria University, wants to shed new light on the complex relationship between physical activity and falls in Parkinson’s.
New approaches to anxiety and depression
Around half of people with Parkinson's have trouble with anxiety but we still don't understand why it develops or the best ways to treat it.
Dr Angeliki Bogosian and her team at City University London are testing whether mindfulness therapy can have a positive effect on mood, sleep, pain, fatigue and the impact of Parkinson’s on everyday life.
Dr Jerome Swinny, at the University of Portsmouth, is interested in understanding the changes in the brain that could be linked to anxiety. He and his team will then look for drugs that can reverse these changes in the brain.
Finally, researchers at King's College London, led by Professor Richard Brown, are exploring whether simple computer training tasks can 'retrain' the brain and help to reduce anxiety in Parkinson's.
A new approach to overcome freezing
Dr Will Young from Brunel University has already shown that learning analogies can help improve walking. His team discovered that the analogy ‘following footsteps in the sand’ could increase stride length in people with Parkinson’s. Will aims to develop analogies to help people to overcome freezing episodes in daily life. Ultimately, this technique would be a simple and cost-effective intervention for freezing that could be used in public.
Your priorities for improving life
To help us focus on what matters most, we worked with people affected by Parkinson's to come up with key priorities for improving their everyday life.