Oxford Brookes University

Physical exercise to support Parkinson’s patients

Professor Helen Dawes is helping to improve access to exercise and improve mobility in adults and children with long-term neurological conditions and disabilities such as Parkinson's, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.

Professor Dawes leads a team of researchers from The Centre for Movement, Occupational and Rehabilitation Sciences, working both nationally and internationally in China, Brazil, Mexico and Jordan. She was part of the research team from Oxford Brookes University who were involved in the Indian Ocean Row, a scientific project that saw four men row across the Indian Ocean in June 2018, including Robin Buttery who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2015. Her previous research had shown that people who exercise regularly demonstrate a slower decline in mobility and functioning over time. However, most people with Parkinson's struggle to increase or maintain their physical activity. The row presented an exciting opportunity to better understand the impact of intensive training in a person with early onset Parkinson’s. The team found that movement and reactions improved, but metabolic functioning did not. The findings may explain why some people with Parkinson's find it difficult to achieve regular exercise. 

Further reading