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The MAL has launched a study entitled “EMG modules as a novel biomarker of basal ganglia plasticity in Parkinson’s disease”. The study funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation aims to identify specific characteristics of muscle activity that could be linked to changes within the brain that are associated with Parkinson’s disease.

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Charlestown, MA 02129

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Susan Regan
(617) 952-6204

For Research Study Information:
Call our Volunteer Registry Line at
(617) 952-6331

Research

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Synergies in Early Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is one of the leading causes of disability in elderly individuals. It is estimated that currently one million individuals are affected with this disease in the United States alone. Only to have the numbers greatly increase in the upcoming years. An issue that we currently face with the diagnosis of Parkinson‘s disease is, once Parkinson’s has been diagnosed, a significant amount of the striatal dopamine and the dopamine neurons located in the substancia nigra pars compacta part of the brain has already been depleted. With this, it becomes harder and more limited to interventions associated with this disease. An earlier diagnosis would allow for more potential interventions with Parkinson’s disease. This is why, we are conducting a study, which we hypothesize could allow for the development of an earlier diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s disease.

In this study, we will be observing the muscle activation patterns in individuals with Parkinson’s disease by using a series of physical activities, to observe arm reaching movements and gait. We will then be comparing the characteristics of the muscle activation patterns of the clinically affected and unaffected sides in individuals with Parkinson’s disease to health age- and gender-matched controls. Additionally, we will record EMG data during point-to-point arm reaching movements. These movements will be performed with the clinically affected side as well as with the contralateral arm.  EMG data will also be recorded on both legs during gait.

The study will consist of three to five sessions, which will last approximately 2.5 hours each. All individuals must undergo an initial phone screen, must meet all inclusion criteria and must undergo a final in-person screen to determine eligibility.

Inclusion Criteria for Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease:

  • Male and Female, aged 50-80
  • Within 6 months of diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease by a trained movement disorder Neurologist
  • No use of dopaminergic replacement therapy or other medication related to Parkinson’s Disease

Exclusion Criteria for Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease:

  • Cognitive impairments which may interfere with understanding instructions during the performance of the study
  • Subjects who are unable to perform arm reaching movements
  • Self-report of any condition that could affect walking
  • No fractures or skin lesions in the upper or lower limbs
  • Infectious diseases requiring contact precautions.

If you are interested in this study and would like to participate or learn more, please contact the Motion Analysis Volunteer line at 617-952-6331. Please do not hesitate to call with any questions or concerns, which you may have.