In a large conference it is not uncommon to get excited about a poster and when you get to there you realize it in no way applies to your research interests. On Monday I was luck enough to have the opposite happen. I had some extra time, stopped by a poster, and discovered there is amazing work happening in Dublin on Parkinson’s Disease.
A clinical group has been testing if walking on a treadmill while their weight is partially supported improves symptoms. UPDRS was used to measure symptom severity in age matched controls, PD patients without therapy, and PD patients with therapy. Clinically, it appeared that symptoms improved from before therapy to after therapy. This is just the start of the story though.
Matthew Flood wanted to see if they could quantitate physiological improvements by measuring EMG signal structure recorded from isometric leg extension in the upper leg before and after therapy. There is a known oscillation in EMG in PD patients. By comparing before and after to treated and untreated patients, they found that while symptoms were improving, the physiological differences were getting worse over time. They developed a computational model to predict EMG measures and muscle force based on target force. This model would help them to see if single measures of EMG oscillation could be accurate measures of symptom improvement.
So far it seems that the assisted treadmill helps improve muscle strength, but does not help the patients initiate movement, a major symptom of PD. Instead, they are hoping to use Lee Silver Big Voice Therapy (LSBVT) and see if this better improves EMG oscillations. LSBVT asks patients to use “big” movements for everything, to stomp instead if walk, to shout instead of speak. While this data is still being gathered, I personally am excited to hear the results.
If you are also interested in following this story consider attending The International Society of Electrophysiology and Kinesiology in Dublin this summer. Information on ISEK can be found at www.isek.org/congress-2018 Message Matthew Flood to learn more about comparing PD symptoms to physiological improvement.