Can fitness trackers help people with Parkinson’s Disease stay active?

11 Apr 2018
HABS parkinsons
Participants will attend three initial 2-hour group exercise sessions

A team of researchers at The University of Queensland (UQ) is looking for volunteers to participate in a study aimed at increasing physical activity in people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

The team hopes to determine whether group exercise combined with an ongoing, self-managed regime using wearable activity trackers to monitor progress can increase physical activity and improve gait performance.

Dr Robyn Lamont, a Physiotherapist from UQ’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences said that physical activity is important for people with PD as it not only contributes to maintaining functions such as gait, balance and muscle strength, but also ensures safe performance of daily living and maintenance of a patient’s independence.

“Despite the known benefits of physical activity, people with PD are approximately 30% less active than people of a similar age who do not have PD,”

“Even with the best medical and surgical treatments, most people living with PD become less active over time, and especially as progression of the condition itself provides even more challenges.”

The study will use training to improve fitness combined with tools to improve a patient’s belief in their ability to exercise, and a self-management framework to bring these elements together.

“We expect participation in this study will lead to improved physical activity levels, better walking ability and improved quality of life that can be sustained over time, helping to keep people with PD as healthy and as active as possible as the disease progresses, ultimately slowing the impact of physical disability.” Dr Lamont said.

Professor Sandy Brauer, Head of Physiotherapy at UQ has indicated that this study will be a first.

“Study participants will receive an activity tracker to wear on their wrist to monitor their physical activity,”

“As we all know, keeping active is the real challenge, so we will combine proven methods of helping people get active with our understanding of how best to use technology to help them maintain their activity over time.”

The team is looking for people with idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease who have not had surgery for their PD.

This study is funded by a Wesley Medical Research Institute Clinical Neurology Research Grant.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Dr Lamont by email, or by phone +61 7 3365 2779.

Media: Professor Sandy Brauer, or Jo Hickman, UQ Communications,, +61 7 3346 3037