THE SENIOR People with Parkinson's are wanted to test a spinning gravity-defying machine to see if it can help improve symptoms of the disease. Monash University and The Alfred Hospital are testing the new Reviver machine that uses gravity and movement to challenge participants' sense of balance.
The futuristic-looking device tilts people off balance and rotates them through the gravitational field, activating muscle groups that have become disengaged which is one of the symptom's associated with Parkinson's disease.
The researchers are looking to recruit 30 patients diagnosed with moderate to advanced stages of Parkinson's disease or atypical Parkinsonism for a 12-week program using the Reviver machine (also known as a vestibular-stimulation, isometric exercise machine).
They aim to find out if using the machine can lead to improved balance, mobility and sensory-motor coordination for people with the condition. Melbourne trial participant, Leanore Aro, 68 said she is already seeing the positive effects of the machine. Now halfway through the trial, she said she enjoys using the machine twice a week. "I love the way the machine feels. I have to work very hard to use it and perform the exercises but I can feel my muscles working. They're really getting a big workout," she said.
"Using the machine makes me feel like I'm useful again as I am able to do things I couldn't do otherwise."
"It feels amazing. I feel like I'm independent again and I can do anything. I was very excited to join the trial. I really hope it improves my mobility and I can be more independent again."
The trial is being overseen by Monash University head of neuroscience Professor Terry O'Brien, with lead researcher and brain imaging expert Dr Ben Sinclair from Monash University and Alfred Health.
"It's an exciting project because people affected by Parkinson's have a limited range of treatment options. This study provides a rare opportunity to explore and uncover a new possible treatment pathway for people affected by Parkinson's," said Dr Sinclair, who specialises in non-pharmacological treatments for Parkinson's disease and other brain disorders.
He said early anecdotal feedback suggests the Reviver machine may improve mobility and reduce Parkinson's symptoms in users.
In 'timed up-and-go' tests - where people had to stand up from a chair, walk three metres and back then sit down - the average patient completed the task in 10-13 seconds. After only a few sessions on the machine, some patients could accomplish the task in eight to nine seconds.
Dr Sinclair said a randomised controlled trial is now needed to expand on the initial findings.
There are approximately 80,000 people living with Parkinson's Disease in Australia, with one in five of these people being diagnosed before the age of 50.
The machine's inventor Geoffrey Redmond, who came up with the Reviver technology after noticing the deterioration in his elderly mother's health, said he was glad to see it being used in a formal trial.
"The anecdotal results with our patients have been very positive. We're proud to see it being tested by the world-leading team at Monash and The Alfred and are very keen to learn the results," he said.
Participants will need to attend twice weekly sessions at The Alfred in Melbourne for a 12-week period.
Trial participants will be separated into two groups, based on their diagnosis. Half of each group will undertake exercise according to the Reviver regime, in addition to their regular standard of care. The other half will continue their standard of care without use of the machine. Results from groups who used the machine will be compared to their control group counterparts.
People interested in participating in the trial should call 02 9524 2188 or email firstname.lastname@example.org