Parkinson’s UK funds nearly £450,000 for research exploring new ways to manage Parkinson’s symptoms

Our latest round of grants fund projects which aim to improve everyday life for people living with Parkinson’s, without the need for extra medications.

We know that people with Parkinson’s are often taking multiple medications a day. So it’s important that we’re also funding research exploring creative ways to tackle symptoms of the condition, without adding the burden of extra pills.

Our non-drug approaches grant scheme is dedicated to this type of research. From exploring the use of technology like virtual and augmented reality, to supporting and facilitating training to help healthcare professionals better support the needs of people with Parkinson’s who experience mental health challenges.

How do we choose what to fund?

We fund research projects that are based on the priorities of people with Parkinson’s. We work with a team of scientific experts, alongside people with lived experience of Parkinson’s, to make sure we’re funding research that will have the most impact, today and in the future.

In our latest round of funding, we’ve awarded a total of £446,305 to projects that are looking at using cutting edge technologies to tackle some of the most high priority symptoms for people with Parkinson’s.

Our newly funded projects

Investigating a wrist-worn device to help control tremor

Lead researcher: Professor Stephen Jackson, University of Nottingham
Funding awarded: £141,780
Project summary: One of the most common movement symptoms experienced by people with Parkinson’s is a tremor. Previous research has demonstrated that stimulating a nerve in the wrist with a small electrical pulse can reduce the severity and frequency of unwanted movements in people with Tourette’s syndrome. Researchers now want to investigate whether this method could help manage tremors experienced by people with Parkinson’s.

Exploring the effect of Deep Brain Stimulation on impulsive behaviours in Parkinson’s 

Lead researcher: Dr Paul Shotbolt, King's College London
Funding awarded: £74,398
Project summary: Impulsive behaviour is when a person can't resist the temptation to carry out certain activities, which can often be disruptive or damaging, such as excessive eating, shopping or gambling. These behaviours can be brought on by taking dopamine replacement medication, and so can become a problem for some people with Parkinson’s. Researchers want to see if Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, used to control Parkinson’s symptoms for people for whom medication is no longer working, could help control these behaviours.

Using augmented reality to improve mobility in Parkinson’s

Lead researcher: Dr Julie Jones, Robert Gordon University, Glasgow
Funding awarded: £105,666
Project summary: Many people living with Parkinson’s experience difficulty walking. This can increase the risk of falls and the fear of falling, which can greatly impact a person’s quality of life. This study aims to investigate a new approach to improving mobility: using an augmented reality device, called Reality DTx® by Strolll. The device is placed on the face like a pair of glasses, and enables the wearer to interact with activities and exercises that aim to help improve mobility.

Managing facial masking using a virtual reality device

Lead researcher: Dr Fiona French, London Metropolitan University
Funding awarded: £124,461
Project summary: Movement symptoms are common in Parkinson’s, and can include difficulties moving the muscles in the face. This leads to fewer facial expressions, a symptom known as facial masking. The project aims to collect information about facial muscle movements in people with and without Parkinson’s. The researchers will use this information to develop and test a headset that uses virtual reality to encourage people with Parkinson’s to move their facial muscles, and improve facial masking.