UNE Physical Therapy and Dental Medicine research shows promise for people with Parkinson disease


December 20, 2016

A recently published study from student researchers at the University of New England showed that wearing a specially designed mouthpiece could improve symptoms for those suffering from Parkinson disease.

UNE Doctor of Physical Therapy Program Class of 2015 graduates Hillary Lane, PT, D.P.T., Megan Cutter Woodbrey, PT, D.P.T., and Lindsey Rose, PT, D.P.T., published the results of their study, titled “Exploring the Effects of Using an Oral Appliance to Reduce Movement Dysfunction in an Individual With Parkinson Disease: A Single-Subject Design Study." It appears in the January 2017 issue of the Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy. The project was conducted in collaboration with David Arghavani, D.D.S., formerly of the UNE College of Dental Medicine, and Michael Lawrence of the UNE Motion Analysis Lab. It was supervised by Jim Cavanaugh, PT, Ph.D., in the Department of Physical Therapy and was funded by the Westbrook College of Health Professions.

To conduct the study, Lane, Woodbrey, and Rose used sophisticated equipment in the UNE Motion Analysis Lab to examine the gait, balance, and strength of an individual with Parkinson disease. In one condition, the participant completed several tasks while wearing a custom-made mouthpiece designed and fabricated with help from Arghavani. In the other condition, the participant completed the same tasks without the mouthpiece. The participant also wore the device for one month during his usual activities. The results showed that while wearing the mouthpiece, the participant experienced subtle improvements in walking, balance and strength. The study provided preliminary support for the idea that a custom-made mouthpiece might reduce some of the movement problems experienced by people with Parkinson disease. More rigorous and extensive research is most certainly needed to better understand the effect of the mouthpiece and the extent to which it might serve as a useful and practical intervention for people with Parkinson disease.   

Read the abstract of the study.

Watch a video explaining the research. 

Read more from Dentistry Today.

To learn more about the University of New England’s Westbrook College of Health Professions visit www.une.edu/wchp

To learn more about the University of New England College of Dental Medicine, visit: www.une.edu/dentalmedicine

To apply, visit www.une.edu/admissions

Groups audience: