Zrinski Research Grants

The Zrinski Research Grants support and encourage a broad range of WA-based research, relevant to the study of Parkinson’s.

The Impact of Cognition on Everyday Function, Quality of Life, Motor Symptoms, Sleep, Mood, and Carer Experience in Parkinson’s

Park C (Curtin University)

The first year of ParkC’s Zrinski grant funding has been an exceptional success. Over 65 people have participated in ParkC study and we have over 25 new recruits scheduled to take part.

In the first year of the Zrinski Research Grant funding, ParkC has had four publications in international scientific journals. These publications are starting to be cited (referred to by other scientists and clinicians) and are indicative of the impact of ParkC in the scientific community. These articles addressed issues such as sleep problems in Parkinson’s, mild cognitive impairment, the relationship between motor symptoms and memory, and depression and anxiety in Parkinson’s.

Four honours students joined the ParkC team and were trained in neurocognitive assessment of Parkinson’s. These students are studying topics, including sleep, planning behaviours, coping, anxiety, and quality of life in Parkinson’s.

We have also conducted an honours study with Professor Sergio Starkstein (Fremantle Hospital) and Dr Sarah Egan, examining the expectations people have of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s.

One of our ParkC PhD students recently presented their work on brain stimulation and cognition to the 4th World Parkinson Congress in Portland, Oregon, which was a huge success and gained interest from international scientists and clinicians. ParkC has had a very successful Zrinski Research Grant first year and the project continues to grow from strength to strength.

The Neuropsychiatric effects of PSA DBS

University of Western Australia/Fremantle Hospital and Health Service

Deep Brain Stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus is one of the most effective treatments for patients with Parkinson’s who have marked ON-OFF fluctuations, tremor and/or dyskinesias on oral antiparkinsonian medication. There is significant improvement of all three of these motor symptoms. On the other hand, the experience collected during the past 10 years shows that some patients may develop psychiatric side-effects, such as apathy and depression, as well as cognitive deficits such as decline in verbal memory and word fluency.

Our group has been studying a new target for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), the posterios subthalamic area (PSA), which promises to deliver similar or even better motor responses upon stimulation, with less cognitive and neuropsychological side effects. To this end, we completed a pilot study that included 9 patients with Parkinson’s which showed significant motor improvement in the absence of cognitive deficits or psychiatric changes. We started a second study; a randomised controlled cross-over trial to examine the site within the PSA that delivers the best motor response in the context of the greatest safety in terms of cognitive or psychiatric disorders. For this proposal, we will include 40 patients, 15 of who already had surgery and have been assessed. Thus, the first aim of the proposal is to complete cognitive and psychiatric assessments in the remaining 25 patients.