Active Research Projects

Funded Projects – Current

PI: Karen Wheeler Hegland, PhD, CCC-SLP

Sponsor: National Institutes of Health, NICHD/NCMRR

Award #: 1R01HD091658-01A1

Title: Mechanisms of Airway Protection Deficits in Parkinson’s disease

The purpose of this research study is to determine the reasons why people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) develop problems swallowing and coughing. We have studied both swallowing and cough in PD for several years now, and we have identified that reduced sensation of breathing difficulty or change may be related to problems swallowing and coughing in people with PD. For this study, we will be conducting several tests of swallowing, coughing, and breathing, in order to understand whether our theory is correct. Ultimately, better understanding of why people with PD have problems protecting their airway will help researchers to develop new ways to help reduce those problems.

Who is eligible to participate in this study? 

We are recruiting 2 participant groups: the control group (healthy adults without Parkinson’s disease), and people with Parkinson’s disease.

Who is NOT eligible to participate in this study?

  • Anyone with a history of stroke, head, neck, or lung cancer, chronic breathing disorders (e.g., COPD), or smoking cigarettes in the last 5 years
  • Anyone with a neurologic disorder other than, or in addition to Parkinson’s disease

What kind of time commitment is required for this study?

  • There are 3 study visits, spaced 10-14 month apart.
  • Each visit will last about 4-5 hours.

 


PI / Co-PI: Karen Wheeler Hegland, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Sponsor: Michael J. Fox Foundation

Title: Rehabilitation for airway protective deficits in Parkinson’s disease

Currently, there are no efficacious behavioral treatment approaches to address uncompensated aspiration, or aspiration without appropriate cough response, in Parkinson’s disease (PD).  This is of particular public health concern given that aspiration pneumonia is the leading cause of death in persons with PD. The overarching aim of the proposed study is to determine the efficacy of two distinct intensive rehabilitation paradigms, expiratory muscle strength training (EMST) and sensorimotor treatment for airway protection (smTAP), on airway protective clinical outcomes in persons with PD and dysphagia.  We anticipate our results will lead to reductions in the risks associated with airway protective deficits.

Who is eligible to participate in this study? 

Adults between 45 and 85 years with Parkinson’s disease.

Who is NOT eligible to participate in this study?

  • Anyone with a history of stroke, head, neck, or lung cancer, chronic breathing disorders (e.g., COPD), or smoking cigarettes in the last 5 years
  • Anyone with a neurologic disorder other than, or in addition to Parkinson’s disease

What kind of time commitment is required for this study?

  • The study will last between 7 and 13 weeks.
  • There will be either 7 or 8 study visits.
  • Each study visit will last between 1 and 3 hours.
  • Since this is a treatment study, there are exercises you will be required to do at home, for 5 days out of each week.