Current Research

Current Parkinson's Disease Research

Current Parkinson's Disease Research

Mapping Parkinson's Disease Needs and Services

What is the project about?

This exciting and timely HRB-funded research project is ongoing at UCC. The programme of research for this project involves: 1) estimating the prevalence of Parkinson's in Ireland; 2) mapping and evaluating the range of available health services for people with Parkinson's across the country; and 3) exploring the unmet needs of people with Parkinson's and their perspectives on health service access and provision.

Who is leading the project?

This project is led by principal investigator Prof. Suzanne Timmons of the Centre for Gerontology & Rehabilitation, UCC. Prof. Timmons says “this research is helping us to understand how we can improve services, to support people with Parkinson’s in Ireland to live healthier and better quality lives”.

Paula Gilmore, CEO of the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland (PAI), is the ‘public and patient involvement’ Co-Lead on this project. Importantly, the project team also includes a person with Parkinson’s disease, Mr Tony Wilkinson, who is a vocal advocate for people with Parkinson’s, at both a national and local level. Tony has acted as a co-researcher on this project, to make sure the research asks and answers the important questions.

Why is this research important?

We know that there has not been enough investment made in healthcare services to improve care for people with Parkinson’s in Ireland. For example, services are under-provided in certain areas. Where PD clinics/services do exist, under-resourcing can be a significant problem, leading to lengthy wait lists for diagnosis and ongoing follow-up visits. This situation can have negative effects on people with Parkinson’s, in terms of their wellbeing and quality of life. It can also lead to more hospital admissions, which might have been avoided if services in the community were better able to provide the right care and support, at the right time. 

The data collected during this project will provide vital information for important decision-makers in the HSE and Department of Health, to inform future PD service planning and development.

 

Project Update (14/06/2021)

National Survey

As of June 2021, we have finally reached 1500 responses on the national survey of people with Parkinson's regarding their specialist healthcare experiences. Data collection for this survey will close on June 30th, 2021.

Link to the online version of the survey: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeZpV-9F_7SX5bS9-KdGdlDJMaikHnvZ2N9HTdc9ebHU9LtLw/viewform 

Telephone Interviews

All interviews with people with Parkinson's have now been conducted. In total, we have 30 in-depth qualitative interviews with a wide and diverse range of people with Parkinson's, all across the Republic of Ireland.

National Audit of Specialist PD Clinics

The audit has been delayed by the recent ransomware attack on the HSE. We plan to firm up new dates for data collection in July 2021.

Contact us

If you would like further information on any aspect of this study, please contact the project manager, Dr Emma O’ Shea:

Email: emma.oshea@ucc.ie  Mobile: 0860354526

 

Introducing Wearable Technology into Parkinson’s Disease Care (SENDOC)

What is the project about?

This project is assessing the potential role of wearable technology in the treatment of people with Parkinson’s Disease, especially those living in remote areas. We have two main goals. First, we want to understand what design features are important to people with Parkinson’s Disease – can we design a device that suits their needs? Second, we will evaluate the accuracy of existing devices to measure hand motor functions in people with Parkinson’s Disease. With this information, we hope to develop a novel wearable device that can accurately measure hand motor function and relay that information back to Parkinson’s Disease specialists.

Why is this research important?

Wearable technology has the potential to provide rich data to Parkinson’s Disease specialists who can use that information to modify treatment plans and monitor rehabilitation. Continuous monitoring can identify subtle changes in motor function, sleep, and activity and instantly alert users and their healthcare providers. Wearable technologies can bridge the information gap between clinics and patients by reducing the burden of writing symptom diaries and the burden of frequently traveling to clinics. Healthcare providers can use the information to fine tune medications and monitor the progression of the disease.

What are the devices?

Wrist-worn motion sensor: this type of device captures information about steps, tremor, activity, speed of movement, and sleep. It could be used to monitor overall health, activity levels, and wearing off of medication.

Glove: we are testing if this device can accurately measure tremor, finger stiffness, and speed of movement. It could be used to monitor changes in fine motor movements over time.

Who is involved?

The EU Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme is funding this project. Researchers at the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation at UCC and Tyndall Institute in Cork are executing the research. People with Parkinson’s Disease are volunteering their time to the research by testing the devices and providing feedback.

 

Project Update (15/06/2021)

We have published a review of what is already known about what people with Parkinson’s want in a wearable device, and a second on how these devices perform in terms of accuracy.

Focus groups

Volunteers with Parkinson’s disease participated in focus groups in which they discussed their experiences with wearable devices, the challenges of living with Parkinson’s disease, and the potential of wearable devices to help them manage their disease. The findings from these focus groups will inform future wearable device design.

Device testing

We trialled the wrist-worn motion sensor and the prototype glove with 20 volunteers. The volunteers performed a series of movements and the devices collected data on tremor and bradykinesia. This data will increase device accuracy and contribute to future developments. So far, we have shown that clinicians vary in their rating of hand movements, particularly for hand bradykinesia more than tremor. This could be improved by using a device to measure hand movement function. We are also looking to see if we can better standardise how clinicians rate hand movement.

Contact us

If you would like further information on any aspect of the SENDOC study, please contact Lorna Kenny or Kevin Moore.  Email: lorna.kenny@ucc.ie; kevin.moore@ucc.ie

 

Developing a Novel Parkinson’s Disease Wearable Device

What is the project about?

The Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation has partnered with Tyndall Institute and AbbVie Inc. to develop a novel wearable device for people with Parkinson’s disease. This device will measure Parkinson’s disease symptoms, notify users of any changes, and provide rich data for clinicians. This research builds on the findings of the SENDOC study (see above).

What is the device?

Our goal is to develop a device that can measure tremor, bradykinesia, sleep, exercise, gait speed, and blood pressure. Engineers at Tyndall Institute are designing the device after feedback from people with Parkinson’s and researchers at the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation.

Who is involved?

AbbVie Inc. and Enterprise Ireland are co-funding this project. Researchers at the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation at UCC and Tyndall Institute in Cork are executing the research. Prof Suzanne Timmons, a Consultant Geriatrician and Professor at University College Cork, is leading the clinical research portion of the study. Her team at the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation are responsible for participant recruitment, data collection, and feedback on clinical aspects of the device design.

People with Parkinson’s Disease are volunteering their time to the research by testing the devices and providing feedback.

Recruitment

This research could not be conducted without the input of people with Parkinson’s Disease. The device must be thoroughly tested on people with Parkinson’s disease before it is ready for implementation. Each new volunteer provides the opportunity to fine tune the system that little bit more.

If you would like further information about our research, or if you are interested in participating, please contact Lorna Kenny or Kevin Moore at the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation.

Email: lorna.kenny@ucc.ie; kevin.moore@ucc.ie

Parkinson's Disease Research Cluster (PDRC)

College of Medicine & Health, University College Cork, Ireland.

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