Australian Study of Walking Testing for Parkinson's Symptoms Relief

An upcoming Australian study will examine the potential benefits of swimming pool walks – swimming in a pool versus going ashore – to alleviate the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

The main aim of the study, the researchers said, is to determine whether such water running can relieve the sudden drop in blood pressure known as neurogenic orthostatic hypotension, which can occur when standing up from a sitting or lying position.

The study was conducted at the University of the Sunshine Coast, known as USC, along the east coast of Australia and is recruiting adults with early-stage Parkinson’s disease. It is headed by the movement physiologist Sarah Latif, who is working on her master’s thesis in private practice clinics after a decade.

“I spent 10 years rehabilitating patients with a variety of chronic and acute conditions through exercise, and I returned to university to learn about physical rehabilitation to improve community health and disease progression how to prevent Parkinson’s, “Latif said in a university press release.

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Up to 60 adults with early-stage Parkinson’s disease (stage 1 or 2 on the Hoehn and Yahr rating scale) who have been diagnosed with neurogenic orthostatic hypotension are eligible.

Orthostatic hypotension is caused by the impaired release of the signaling molecule norepinephrine when standing up. Among other things, norepinephrine is an important regulator of blood pressure. Patients with this condition often experience dizziness, lightheadedness, tiredness, and blurred vision, which can increase the risk of falls, which can lead to injury.

The disease is often underdiagnosed and can occur in up to 89% of all Parkinson’s cases. But even if orthostatic hypotension is diagnosed, Latif said, the drugs used to treat it can have undesirable side effects that affect patients’ quality of life.

“Parkinson’s is a neurological disease that is becoming more common and walking is recommended for patients. However, there is a knowledge gap for specific exercise and water rehabilitation for non-motor symptoms such as neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure when changing body position), ”said Latif.

“This hypotension can lead to dizziness, increased risk of falls, fatigue, and neck / shoulder pain,” she added.

Study participants will do walking exercises in the USC pool and on a hiking trail three times a week. The exercises are scheduled to begin in August and last for six months, followed by a three-month follow-up.

The study will evaluate whether walking in a swimming pool works better than walking on land to relieve orthostatic hypotension.

For registration and further information, send an email to Latif at [email protected].

In addition to evaluating walking in water for orthostatic hypotension, the researcher plans to examine the effects of walking in water versus running on the track on other non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

“I will also investigate whether both types of walking relieve anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, pain, and apathy, which are other common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that contribute to a decreased quality of life,” said Latif.

Latif graduated with a USC Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science in 2010. Her project is led by Suzanne Broadbent, PhD, Associate Professor of Clinical Exercise Physiology at USC, and Sonja Coetzee, PhD, University Lecturer.