NNUH joins Parkinson’s research study to help reduce falls

Research that aims to improve the lives of patients living with Parkinson’s disease by reducing the risk of falls has been launched at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Our Trust has become the first hospital in the East of England to join Cholinesterase Inhibitors to Prevent Falls in Parkinson’s Trial (CHIEF-PD), which is testing the use of a drug used to treat memory problems to reduce falls.

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years and our Trust sees around 600 patients with the disease in our clinics.

CHIEF-PD is sponsored by University of Bristol and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and aims to determine whether cholinesterase inhibitors can prevent falls in people with Parkinson’s disease and to find out whether this treatment is cost effective. Patients who take part are randomly assigned to receive either the drug or a placebo, and are followed up for a year while on the trial.

Dr Alagaratnam Niruban, who is a Consultant in Older People’s Medicine, is leading the trial at NNUH along with Consultant Neurologist Dr Dostal and we are aiming to recruit patients into this NIHR funded study.

He said: “We have five Parkinson’s research studies happening at NNUH moment, which are 50/50 split between Older People’s Medicine and the Neurology Department. It is great to be joining this trial and we hope to start seeing results from it later next year.  There are specific criteria to be involved in this study and at the moment the patient needs to have a diagnosis of Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, they have had a fall in the last year and no prior diagnosis of dementia. In primary studies (Phase 2) trialling this drug they found that they could reduce the risk of falls by 30 per cent in People with Parkinson’s disease and this is a bigger study (Phase 3) and would be hugely successful if it significantly reduced the risk of falls.”

It is thought around 1 in 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s disease and most people develop symptoms when they are over 50.

Dr Niruban, who joined NNUH in 2013, said that while there was no cure yet for Parkinson’s disease, early diagnosis can help patients to manage their condition.

“There is lots of ongoing research on Parkinson’s disease across the world, but still no breakthrough. Early diagnosis can help so that we can help to maintain patients to be physically well for as long as possible, which definitely helps to maintain a better quality of life, the earlier the diagnosis.

“Exercise is the best thing any Parkinson’s patient can do to help them keep as fit and active as possible. We have a dedicated physiotherapist in our clinic who gives patients exercises to help their condition and occupational therapist who looks at the patient’s care needs, right from the time of diagnosis”

For more information about CHIEF-PD, visit https://chiefpd.blogs.bristol.ac.uk/

See your GP if you are concerned that you may have symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

The three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:

  • involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body
  • slow movement

stiff and inflexible muscles