Ongoing Research in Glasgow: Community Walking

Ongoing Research in Glasgow: Community WalkingVirtual Reality Assisted Physio And Rehabilitation

Dr Andy Kerr, and his colleague Esraa Aldayil, hosted the GRIG’s first few development workshops and spoke about their work: looking into virtual reality assisted physio and rehabilitation.  Dr Kerr is one of the early supporters of the GRIG, whose involvement with our set-up phase was invaluable. He is a senior research scientist, working in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

His fields of interests include motor/movement issues in Stroke patients.   His recent work has focussed on researching the use of technology assistance, with a special self-paced treadmill environment linked to a Virtual Reality (VR) system.  It’s a bit like a flight simulator – the stroke patient uses the treadmill and the VR software shows him/her what is happening and can prompt the user to modify what they are doing so that they are better able to move.   This is the one in Glasgow, the only other one in the UK is in Salford! *

Community walking is challenging for many people with Parkinson’s.  The frequent stops, starts and changes to speed and direction demand high attention and can cause freezing events.

The research that Andy has been working on addresses the following Research Question: Do people with Parkinson’s differ in the way they increase walking speed compared with people without the condition?

The first study concentrated on looking at how increasing walking speed happens between a control group (people without Parkinson’s) and People with Parkinson’s.  Analysis of the participants showed that the control group increased their step length, whilst the People with Parkinson’s increased pace with a much smaller increase in step length. 

These results, though based on a small number of participants, show that there is a need for more detailed and larger-scale studies into this variation.  If this confirms the initial findings, then specific ways of helping People with Parkinson’s might follow.

Dr Kerr is planning further research in partnership with Parkinson’s UK.  He hopes to organise an online focus group/workshop later this year, in collaboration with GRIG, to gain inputs from People with Parkinson’s and their supporters.

For more info on Dr Kerr and his work, please visit:  

Dr Kerr and his Research:

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Andy_Kerr Pure https://www.strath.ac.uk/staff/kerrandydr/

* the technology:

If you’d like to take part in a research study or a  trial, you can find lots of information at https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/research/get-involved-research