Project Title: Effectiveness of a Community-Based Exercise Program for Parkinson's Disease

Faculty Sponsor: Nathaniel Miller

Department: Psychology



Project Description: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that effects approximately 1 million older adults in America. There is no cure for PD; medications are the primary way that PD symptoms are managed.  Medications effectively manage some PD symptoms (e.g., tremor, slowness of movement, muscle rigidity), but other symptoms (e.g., cognition, walking, balance, speech) are less responsive to medication. Exercise may serve as an effective additional therapy to manage PD symptoms. Recent laboratory studies show that individuals with PD who perform high-intensity exercise, such as tandem bicycling, show significant improvements in PD symptoms. This project investigates whether exercise is effective for improving PD symptoms less responsive to medication. We record participant’s physical activity and also have them complete a battery of laboratory tests approximately once a month to measure their PD symptoms, movement and cognition. The goal of the project is to determine whether this community-implemented exercise class improves a range of PD symptoms.   

Student Tasks & Responsibilities:  Student assistants may help with data collection, data processing, data entry, basic statistical analysis/graphing and summarizing research articles.

Minimum Student Qualifications: 

Students should be comfortable with the following:

  • Working in teams
  • Comfortable working with older adults and individuals with Parkinson's disease
  • Pay attention to details
  • Have a working knowledge of Excel and basic statistics (e.g., means and standard deviations)