QUB researchers are conducting a study evaluating balance, body awareness and muscle activity in people with and without Parkinson’s Disease. They are looking for 20 people with Parkinson’s Disease and 20 older adults without any neurological conditions to take part.

More information can be found in the PDF attached:

Balance Study_QUB_Social Media_ (1)

Somatosensory acuity and muscle co-contraction during dynamic postural control in people living with PD

1. You are being invited to take part in a research study.

Before you decide whether or not to take part, it is important that you understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take the time to read the following information carefully and discuss it with others if you wish. Please ask us if there is anything that is not clear or if you would like more information. Thank you for reading this.

2. What is the purpose of the study?

This study aims to assess differences in muscle activity and proprioception (i.e., body awareness) during balance between people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and people without PD (of the same age group – older adults). This study will also explore the relationship between body awareness and mental imagery ability.

3. Why have I been chosen?

You have been chosen because we aim to compare muscle activity and body awareness during balance between older adults with PD and older adults without PD. Thus, we will recruit 20 people with PD and 20 people without PD to take part (target age range 50 – 70 years).

4. Do I have to take part?

No. It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part. If you decide to take part, you will need to fill out a screening questionnaire to determine if you are eligible and you will be asked to sign a consent form. If you choose to take part but later change your mind, you can withdraw from the study without giving a reason at any time.

5. What will happen to me if I take part?

On a day of your choosing, you will be asked to attend our Balance Laboratory in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast, on the fourth floor of the David Keir Building (accessible via both the Malone and Stranmillis Roads). There you will participate in our experiment which includes measures of balance, proprioception (i.e., body awareness), mental imagery ability (i.e., how well you can visualize movements), and muscle activity.

First, you will complete some baseline assessments, including a standardized clinical test to assess your balance and a questionnaire to assess your balance confidence. Cognition (e.g., thinking, memory, attention) will also be assessed, and Body Mass Index will be calculated. People with PD will also complete assessments of PD symptoms.

After this, we will apply electrodes to the skin on your lower leg muscles (allowing us to measure muscle activity), and you will be asked to stand on a balance platform for approximately 10 minutes. During the block, you will be asked to stand on a stable platform (2m), followed by an unstable (tilting) platform (3m), and then a stable platform again (2m). A safety harness will be worn at all times. Please note you will need to wear a blindfold during this assessment because we are interested in learning about balance and body awareness in the absence of vision.

After this, you will be asked to complete a seated body awareness task during which you will be asked to respond when you believe that your two ankle joints are positioned at the same angle. You will also need to wear a blindfold during this assessment because again we are interested in learning about body awareness in the absence of vision.

The total length of the experimental session will be approximately two hours. Detailed instructions about the tasks will be given to you before beginning the experiment.

6. What are the possible risks or disadvantages of taking part?

The main disadvantage is that you will need to give up some of your time to take part in the study. There is a small risk of muscle soreness or injury associated with taking part in the physical assessments. However, we can assure you that the assessors have been appropriately trained and that you will wear a safety harness

while standing on the moving platform to prevent falls. There is also a minor risk of skin irritation which may arise from the preparations that we use for muscle activity recordings (e.g., applying abrasive gel to the skin).

7. What are the possible benefits of taking part?

We offer a £10 Amazon voucher to each participant at the end of the experiment. In addition, the information obtained from this study may help us researchers understand the factors that contribute to postural instability in Parkinson’s Disease. We hope this information can help us to better understand how to improve balance and prevent falls in people with Parkinson’s.

8. What if something goes wrong?

If you have any concerns about any aspects of the study, you can contact the Chief Investigator, Mihalis Doumas (see below for contact details). Should you remain unhappy and wish to make a formal complaint, you can contact the Research Governance Team at Queen’s University Belfast (Telephone: 028 9097 2529; Email: researchgovernance@qub.ac.uk).

9. What about COVID-19?

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are doing our utmost to maximise your safety as a participant. In order to participate in this study, you must be vaccinated against COVID-19. The researchers are all fully vaccinated against COVID-19. You will also be required to take a lateral flow test on the day of your participation, and to show confirmation of a negative result. The researchers will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout the experiment. You will be required to wear a disposable face mask throughout the study. We will provide you with a new mask upon entry to the building. You will also be asked to sanitise your hands upon entering the building. The laboratory, and all pieces of equipment with which you will come into contact, will be sanitised before your arrival.

Beyond the risks posed to you directly as a participant, you should also consider carefully the risks that your participation may pose for any person you may come into contact with, such as vulnerable friends or family members.

For more information and up-to-date guidance, visit: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

10. Will my taking part in this study be kept confidential?

Yes, all information provided by you during the course of the research will be kept strictly confidential, and your data will be anonymised. Completed consent forms and pre-screening questionnaires containing confidential information will be stored securely in a locked office at Queen’s.

Queen’s University Belfast is the sponsor for this study based in the United Kingdom. We will be using information from you in order to undertake this study and will act as the data controller for this study. This means that we are responsible for looking after your information and using it properly. Queen’s University Belfast will keep identifiable information about you for 5 years after the study has finished. Your rights to access, change or move your information are limited, as we need to manage your information in specific ways in order for the research to be reliable and accurate. If you withdraw from the study, we will keep the information about you that we have already obtained. To safeguard your rights, we will use the minimum personally-identifiable information possible.

11. What will happen to the results of the research?

Information from this study may be presented at psychological conferences and published in academic journals. You will not be identifiable in any report or publication that results from this work.

12. Who is organising and funding the research?

Queen’s University Belfast is sponsoring this research, which is being undertaken by Dr. Mihalis Doumas and Paul McDonnell (Research Assistant) in the School of Psychology. The research is being funded by Queen’s University Belfast’s Impact Fund and the Thouron Award, a U.S.-U.K. graduate exchange scholarship.

13. Who has reviewed the study?

This study has been reviewed by the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Ethics Committee of Queen’s University Belfast (QUB EPS Faculty REC).

14. Contact for Further Information

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this study, or if you are interested in participating, please contact: Postgraduate Research Assistant, Paul McDonnell at pmcdonnell06@qub.ac.uk or 00353 872147467

You may also contact Dr. Mihalis Doumas at m.doumas@qub.ac.uk or 0044 28 9097 4605