A randomised controlled trial to reduce the risk of falling in people with Parkinson’s disease


Researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and The University of New South Wales are seeking research volunteers to help us learn about reactive and volitional step training to reduce falls among people with Parkinson’s disease.

Would the research project be a good fit for me?

The study might be a good fit for you if:

  • Have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (mild to moderate stage of the disease)
  • Aged 40 years or older
  • Living independently in the community or retirement village
  • Able to communicate in English language
  • Do not have a diagnosis of other neurological and/or cognitive impairments, atypical Parkinsonism
  • No recent history (< 6months) of deep-brain stimulation surgery
  • Able to walk 30 metres unassisted
  • Have had less than 20 falls in the past three months
  • Being stable on anti-Parkinson medications for >= 1 month


What would happen if I took part in the research project?

If you decide to take part you would:

  • Be invited to visit NeuRA to assess your physical functions, clinical status, reactive stepping and brain functioning (non-invasively) (option to have some of the assessments conducted in your home); these assessments will be repeated after 3 months and you will receive summary results of these assessments
  • Be randomly allocated to one of two groups: one group will undertake 3 months of training, including a volitional step training program in your home plus 2 sessions of reactive step training at NeuRA. The other group will continue with their usual activities for 3 months.

Will I be paid to take part in the research project?

You may be reimbursed for any reasonable travel costs associated with the research project visit/s.


If you would like more information or are interested in being part of the study please contact

Contact person: Paulo Pelicioni
Phone: 02 9399 1024

HREC Approval Number: 180129

Volitional step training at home

Reactive step training at NeuRA


See what’s going on at NeuRA


Cortical activity during balance tasks in ageing and clinical groups using functional near-infrared spectroscopy

Prof Stephen Lord, Dr Jasmine Menant Walking is not automatic and requires attention and brain processing to maintain balance and prevent falling over. Brain structure and function deteriorate with ageing and neurodegenerative disorders, in turn impacting both cognitive and motor functions.   This series of studies will investigate: How do age and/or disease- associated declines in cognitive functions affect balance control? How is this further impacted by psychological, physiological and medical factors (eg. fear, pain, medications)? How does the brain control these balance tasks?     Approach The experiments involve experimental paradigms that challenge cognitive functions of interest (eg.visuo-spatial working memory, inhibitory function). I use functional near-infrared spectroscopy to study activation in superficial cortical regions of interest (eg. prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor area…). The studies involve young and older people as well as clinical groups (eg.Parkinson’s disease).   Studies Cortical activity during stepping and gait adaptability tasks Effects of age, posture and task condition on cortical activity during reaction time tasks Influence of balance challenge and concern about falling on brain activity during walking Influence of lower limb pain/discomfort on brain activity during stepping   This research will greatly improve our understanding of the interactions between brain capacity, functions and balance control across ageing and diseases, psychological, physiological and medical factors, allows to identify targets for rehabilitation. It will also help identifying whether exercise-based interventions improve neural efficiency for enhanced balance control.