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Clinical Trial for People with Parkinson’s

Last year, Mason’s Department of Rehabilitation Science [1] wrapped up a clinical trial on the walking function of people with spinal cord injuries. Now, Mason faculty and students at the College of Health and Human Services [2] are taking some of the lessons learned from that study and applying them to a new study for those with Parkinson’s disease.

Patient and student in the Rehabilitation Lab. Photo by Ron Aira

The clinical trial will run for 12 weeks and involve a series of training sessions featuring specific exercises to improve the walking function of people with Parkinson’s disease. Rehabilitation science PhD students who were involved in the previous study proposed much of this new study’s protocol.

The trial will also focus on factors that affect walking, using the cutting-edge technology in the Functional Performance Laboratory [3] at Peterson Family Health Sciences Hall [4]. These include equipment to record lower-extremity muscle activity, a portable metabolic system to measure breathing, and various devices that measure the characteristics of stepping.

“We can test a lot of things in the lab, but ultimately, life happens outside of the lab,” says Clinton Wutzke, an assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and the study’s coprincipal investigator, along with department chair Andrew Guccione.

Wutzke says that the study is in response to community needs. There is a large group of people with Parkinson’s in the Northern Virginia area, he says, and nationally, more people are being diagnosed with Parkinson’s than ever before.