Revolutionising care for people with Parkinson’s

Julie Jones has been awarded around £250,000 from the Chief Scientist Office and Parkinson’s UK for a clinical academic fellowship. A rare achievement for an allied health practitioner

Julie Jones (left) is senior lecturer in physiotherapy at Robert Gordon University

There is much evidence that engaging in regular exercise has numerous benefits for Parkinson’s management – not solely as complementary to medication, but of equal importance. 

Exercise is clearly beneficial from a physical perspective, but there is a growing consensus that it leads to physiological changes within the brain that may have a symptom modifying effect. 

However people with Parkinson’s require access to practitioners who can provide expert advice, guidance and interventions as their condition evolves, without which, engagement in exercise has been shown to dwindle. Services need to be responsive to meet the changing complex needs of individuals with Parkinson’s, addressing both their motor and non-motor needs, to enable people to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

While there is evidence to support participation, services are not always configured to support long-term adherence to exercise. 

As part of my work, I will be training physiotherapists, alongside personal trainers at RGU SPORT, the university’s onsite sports facility. The training will focus on behavioural change, and strategies to support people with Parkinson’s to participate in the management of their condition as part of a collaborative model of care.

This will lead to a feasibility study where a number of people living with Parkinson’s will track their own progress at RGU SPORT, while also examining the benefits of the additional social aspect of their treatment.

If this study proves successful and the participants show real progress after having embedded exercise in their daily lives, this approach could be rolled out wider across the NHS. By working directly with patients and the professionals who can best support them, we can make a real difference on the lives of people living with Parkinson’s. 

  • Julie Jones is senior lecturer in physiotherapy at Robert Gordon University

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