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Research in Occupational Therapy Provides a Safer Future for People with Parkinson’s

posted: April-07-11

April 7, 2011 (Ottawa, ON) – Dr. Jeff Holmes, Assistant Professor, School of Occupational Therapy, University of Western Ontario (UWO) and member of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT), has a lot to celebrate during Parkinson’s Awareness Month.  Holmes, an occupational therapist and educator who works with people who have Parkinson’s, is busy promoting his research which includes safety assessments in multi-tasking and virtual reality exercises with the Nintendo Wii.

Holmes, a principal investigator at the Interdisciplinary Movement Disorders Laboratory, UWO, focuses his primary research on ‘Movement Disorders,’ in particular impairments demonstrated by individuals with Parkinson’s disease. His current area of interest is measuring and evaluating the extent to which individuals with Parkinson’s experience difficulty when attempting to multitask.

“It’s important that people with Parkinson’s disease focus entirely on the task at hand and avoid multi-tasking,” says Holmes. “Conversing with a person who has Parkinson’s during kitchen or walking assessments is discouraged as it can lead to distractions and cause a patient to forget to turn the stove off or increase their chance of falling.”

By working directly with individuals with Parkinson’s disease in his laboratory, Holmes is able to implement evidence into practice, which supports his research projects and the development of assessment tools.

Holmes is also working diligently to release an upcoming study involving exercise and the Nintendo Wii. He is currently working to install Wii systems in the homes of 10 individuals with Parkinson’s for the period of 12 weeks. During this time, patients will be asked to perform exercise programs with the Wii three times a week for 30 minutes a day, which accumulates to 90 minutes of activity per week.

“The project with the Wii will be a feasibility study to determine what works and what doesn’t,” says Holmes. “Our goal is that it will be used as a home-based rehabilitation tool to encourage activity among individuals with Parkinson’s.”
 
Holmes will receive an Ontario Service Award on behalf of the Ontario Government for his service and dedication to the Canadian Parkinson’s Society of Canada later this year and continues to implement evidence-based research methods into his work to improve the safety and well-being of people with Parkinson’s.

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For more information, please contact:

Tracy Wightman
Communications Administrator
The Canadian Association of Occupational therapists (CAOT)
613-523-2268 ext. 260
twightman@caot.ca

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