Research podcast for Parkinson’s

We chat to Julie and Helga, who have a popular podcast interviewing Parkinson’s researchers.

There's certainly a lot going on in Parkinson’s research and reading blog articles is not the only way to stay informed. Podcasts offer a way for people to listen to short episodes on a variety of subjects by downloading them or streaming them online. The good news is that multiple podcasts have sprung up focusing on Parkinson’s.

If you want to hear about research that is happening into a variety of Parkinson’s symptoms, from the researchers themselves, the NoSPRIG podcast is for you.

The inspirational duo that host this podcast are Julie and Helga. They produce monthly episodes from their homes in the north of Scotland. We asked them to explain a bit more about the podcast and why they took to the airwaves. 

Introducing the podcasting duo

Dr Julie Jones

"I am a physiotherapist specialising in Parkinson’s. I am passionate about making a difference: as a clinician, teaching the next generation and using research to build evidence to improve care and deliver the best support for people living with the condition."

Helga Macfarlane

"I used to work in broadcasting and I have Parkinson’s. A podcast was therefore a natural platform for me after spending nearly 2 decades behind a microphone interviewing people!"

How did the podcast come about?

Julie: "Parkinson’s UK has what they call research interest groups across the 4 nations that unite researchers, healthcare professionals and people with Parkinson’s to share knowledge and ways to keep the local community updated and engaged with research.

"A group was set up in the north of Scotland because there was nothing in the area like it. The NoSPRIG (North of Scotland Research Interest Group) was born. Helga and I were involved from the beginning."

Helga: "From the outset, one of the group’s key objectives has been to try to reach people with Parkinson’s, their families and health professionals in the most remote parts of Scotland. We needed to bring researchers to the individual. What better way than a podcast!

"Julie's knowledge of Parkinson’s as a healthcare professional and academic, not to mention limitless energy and enthusiasm, alongside my lived experience of Parkinson’s and knowledge as a former broadcaster led us to host our first podcast.

"I have to mention, we also had expert mentorship from Dan from Adventurous Audio, another member of the group’s son."

What does the podcast focus on? 

Julie: "We want to work through the different symptoms of Parkinson’s and feature researchers working towards better treatments for the areas covered, whilst offering some practical tips for living well with the condition now. The researchers we invite to the podcast are identified by the Parkinson’s community, and we encourage people to send us what questions they would like to get answered during the interview."

Helga: "For every episode we invite people with Parkinson’s, via social media, to submit questions on forthcoming topics, and have had feedback from as far afield as South America!"

Share what topics you would like to see on the podcast by going to X, formerly Twitter.

What have been your favourite episodes?

Julie: "I love the mental health awareness special podcast we did with Dr Jennifer Foley, and Emma Edwards. Jennifer is a neuropsychologist and Emma is a Parkinson’s nurse, both experts in their field. It was just a really relaxed conversation where Jennifer provided the science behind apathy, fatigue, and depression. And Emma was able to provide practical ways to manage these symptoms from her extensive clinical experience. It was a lovely relaxed conversation that could easily have been had in a cafe, enjoying a lovely latte!"

Listen to the mental health awareness special podcast episode.

Helga: "That’s a difficult one! Every one has relevance at a different time, for example if sleep is a particular issue for me I’ll listen back to that episode. But if I really had to choose one it would have to be the episode with Professor David Dexter, Director of Research at Parkinson’s UK, who gave a great overview of the vast array of projects underway including some that really are on the cusp of producing new treatments. I was quite moved by it. It gave me huge hope and I feel so grateful to all the researchers who devote their working lives towards developing treatments that cure or reduce the suffering of those with any kind of illness or disability. They really are unsung heroes."

Listen to the podcast episode with Professor David Dexter.

Why should people listen to the podcast? 

Julie: "The podcast makes research accessible. People can listen at a time that suits them and in the comfort of their own home. They don’t need to sign up or register, or meet or talk to anyone else. This could be the first step for people who have just been diagnosed with Parkinson's to learn about the condition, and for some the podcasts have prompted them to get involved in research."

Helga: "It can be easy to assume, as a lay person, that research is going to be too highbrow and you’re not going to understand it. We’ve tried our best with the podcasts to make the science understandable without dumbing it down. There’s lots to be learned from research that can help you with the daily challenges of living with and managing your Parkinson’s and medications."

How can people listen to the podcast? 

Julie: "Listen on the Podbean website or search for it in your preferred streaming platform. We would love to get more people listening. Don’t forget to share ideas for who we should interview or areas you think we should cover on social media.

"Please check us out. Podcasts are typically released every 3rd Thursday of the month, except for special editions such as the mental health edition, and all prior episodes are available to listen to again and download."

Do you want to find out more about our Research Interest Groups?

The North of Scotland Research Interest Group (NoSPRIG) is just one of 13 groups across the UK. 

Our Research Interest Groups (RIGs) are made up of people with Parkinson's and their loved ones, researchers and healthcare professionals. They meet regularly, often online, to discuss and share the latest research and what’s happening locally.