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‘Timely’ trial could have significant implications for Parkinson’s patients

Physiotherapy teams are being recruited to a major research trial that could have a big impact on services for people with Parkinson’s disease

The £1.6 million trial will seek to evaluate ‘definitively’ the clinical and cost-effectiveness of physiotherapy and occupational therapy delivered together for Parkinson’s patients.

Professor Cath Sackley, of the University of Birmingham, who is leading the project, invited practitioners from across the profession to take part. She said the work was particularly timely given a recent parliamentary inquiry report that damned gaps in services and called for faster treatment (see Frontline 15 July).

The trial, funded until 2014 by the National Institute of Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme, will involve 800 patients and some 160 therapists at 40 UK centres. Patients will be randomised to be either treated by a physiotherapist and OT for three months or to receive standard care.

Prof Sackley said effectiveness would be judged mainly on the extent to which patients benefited in activity of daily living, such as coping with transport and everyday tasks, as well as disease-specific quality of life outcome measures.

In a report, Please Mind the Gap: Parkinson’s Disease Services Today, published in July, an all-party parliamentary group highlighted poorly integrated care and uneven access to treatment by therapists, doctors and nurses around the UK. During their inquiry, MPs heard how early referral to physiotherapy could help individuals to avoid crises, such as falls.

Endorsing the report, Prof Sackley said the trial could ultimately have significant implications for patients. ‘We are already finding just how badly organised, patchy and inconsistent provision is now,’ she said. The project was open to everyone who sees Parkinson’s patients, she added, and was neither exclusive or ‘ultra specialist’.

Prof Sackley said she hoped practitioners would not be deterred from taking part by the scale of the study. ‘Once people realise what it means for patients I really hope they will want to be involved.’

Further information Email Prof Sackley sacklecm@bham.ac.uk

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