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Enhancing The Lives Of People With Parkinson’s Disease


An important study investigating whether certain training techniques help Parkinson’s Disease (PD) sufferers overcome concentration difficulties is taking place in the School of Psychology at the University of Reading. The researchers believe that, if successful, their work could eventually help improve the lives of the tens of thousands of PD sufferers in the UK alone.

Dr John Harris and his research team, who have been funded by the Parkinson’s Disease Society, are now looking for people with PD to come forward as volunteers and take part in the vital study.

Many PD sufferers experience difficulties with concentration which mean that they are easily distracted, and so, for example, their ability to do some kinds of work, or their enjoyment of reading and television, is impaired by extraneous noises which they would have ignored before the illness. The researchers will establish if training – by carrying out special tasks on computers, for example – can help PD sufferers boost their ability to concentrate in everyday tasks.

"The purpose of this study is not to find a cure, but it might be a way of alleviating the effects of PD on sufferers’ everyday lives," said Dr Harris.

"After some kinds of brain injury, such as stroke, some people can improve their powers of concentration after suitable training. We want to find out whether training can improve such abilities in sufferers from PD also, and how long any improvement lasts.

"If the training techniques using computers do have a positive effect, then people with PD could conceivably use the programmes in their own homes. Ultimately, we hope that the study will lead to the better management of Parkinson’s Disease in the future."

If you have PD and would like to take part in this important research, please contact the University’s School of Psychology on 0118 378 6298, or 0118 378 8523. Alternatively, please e-mail Liz Atkinson:, or Sue Cruddace: Volunteers over 55 years of age who do not have PD are also needed to provide measures of normal ability.

Volunteers would need to visit the School at the University’s Whiteknights campus and reasonable travel costs would be re-imbursed. Volunteers, who can bring friends or relatives with them, can withdraw from the study at any time.

Craig Hillsley | alfa
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