Current Research

The research activities in the Center focus on investigating the impact of exercise and rehabilitation on the progression of disability in individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Currently Enrolling

Walking and mHealth to Increase Participation in Parkinson Disease (WHIP-PD)

We have a new research study that we would like to tell you about!  We are currently recruiting participants for a study of exercise for people with Parkinson disease.  The purpose of this study is to compare the benefits of two different ways to help people with Parkinson disease exercise regularly in order to improve physical activity levels, walking ability and quality of life.

If you are interested in learning more, please click here or contact Jaimie Girnis at: 617-358-6157 or

We hope to see you soon!

Study in Parkinson’s Disease of Exercise Phase 3 (SPARX3)

We are seeking volunteers to participate in a clinical research trial to learn more about the effects of aerobic exercise on people with Parkinson’s disease who have not yet started medication for their PD. It will compare the effects of high vs moderate intensity treadmill exercise on the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

For more information, and to find out if you are eligible, please click here or contact Mike Stevenson at: 617-638-7747 or

Soft Exosuits for Neurorehabilitation Study

The major goal of this project is to develop a lower-extremity suit to improve the walking and independence of mobility-impaired stroke survivors. The study will include one or more visits during which participants will assist with the design and development of the suit by providing information about the way they walk and testing the suit’s components.

For additional information, please click here.
Interested? Contact the Wyss Institute at or 617-432-8227

Impact of Physical Therapy

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the discrepancy between capacity and performance changes in both the upper limb and mobility in stroke and Parkinson disease. Upper limb performance is defined as what the person actually does with their arms and hands in the unstructured environment of daily life. Mobility performance is defined as what the person actually does with their legs in the unstructured environment of daily life. Performance (i.e. what someone actually does) is distinguished from capacity (i.e. what someone is capable of doing). This study utilizes a prospective, longitudinal design. Individuals will be tracked monthly during the course of outpatient physical and/or occupational therapy within the first week of initiation of services and throughout the duration of their outpatient therapies.

The long-term goal of this project is to use the knowledge gained to develop new or modify current rehabilitation interventions that will improve performance in daily life.

If you are interested in receiving our physical therapy services, please contact the Center for Neurorehabilitation at 617-353-7525.

No Longer Enrolling

Emerald: Non-Invasive Health Monitoring

We have a limited ability to understand and measure the real-world function of patients with Parkinson disease. This study uses a passive activity monitor installed in the home over eight weeks to gain insights into how Parkinson disease affects people at home.

People with Parkinson disease and individuals without Parkinson disease or other disorder that impacts their ability to walk are eligible to participate in the study.

Subjects will be asked to complete a clinical assessment with a movement disorder specialist or physical therapist in the office, and then have a passive activity monitor installed in the bedroom of the home for eight weeks. The device continuously collects data on movement and home activity and uploads the data to a secure-cloud based online server via a home WiFi connection.

Effort for Exercise in Parkinson Disease

You are invited to join a research study in which you would participate in decision-making tasks focused on exercise during a single study visit. You will be asked questions about your mood, thoughts and exercise habits followed by participating in a series of tasks on a computer and a cycling task on a stationary bike.

Effort and Motivation Study in Persons with Parkinson Disease

One line of work involves the assessment of people’s perceptions of the costs and potential benefits of a given task, how these perceptions influence willingness to work for reward, and the role of emotion in driving these decisions.  We have found that some people who experience mood and thinking problems (e.g., those with psychosis or depression) might over-estimate the work required to obtain a reward, and thus not exert the requisite effort to accomplish their goals.  Others (e.g., those with mania) might under-estimate costs associated with goal pursuit, which can also lead to unwanted consequences.  We conduct this line of work both in the laboratory (using interviews and tasks completed on the computer) as well as out in the “real-world” using mobile devices.

The goal of this study is to determine the effects of motivation on walking and exercise in individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. This study involves one visit to BU, which includes some computer-based tasks and questionnaires, and 11 days of wearing a Fitbit during your normal daily routines to track steps.

Rehabilitation Enhancing Aging through Connected Health (REACH Pilot Study)

The main purpose of the project is to determine the effectiveness of a mobile health technology mediated exercise program in reducing disability and improving physical function in older adults with mobility decline over 1-year.

Spinal Cord Injury Virtual Coach to Promote Self-Care in Pressure Ulcer Prevention

The goal of this study is to develop and test the first-ever SCI Virtual Coach to provide support, education and coaching after inpatient rehabilitation to promote skin care management in persons post SCI. Feasibility will be evaluated in a proof of concept Phase I/II pilot study measuring acceptability, adherence and preliminary evidence of efficacy.

Application of a Training Module for Peer Coaches to promote exercise adherence in people with Parkinson disease

The goal of this study is to determine the impact of participation in a peer-coaching program, that can be done at home, on a person’s exercise patterns. The peer-coaching program involves assisting another person to reach his/her walking goals through education, goal setting, problem solving, and encouragement.

Eligible participants are assigned to one of two groups, based upon their current walking activity. Those that are peer coaches take a peer coach training program. Those that are peer mentees interact with their peer coach for 8 weeks via telephone conversations. Members of both groups also wear a pedometer to track their daily steps.

Telemedicine Intervention to Improve Physical Function in Persons with Disease

The goal of this study is to determine if a one-year home exercise program, centered on remote, real-time instruction and supervision, will reduce the rate of falls and improve strength and quality of life in patients with Parkinson Disease.

Mobile Health Technology to Promote Physical Activity in Persons with Parkinson Disease

In this study, eligible participants are randomly assigned to one of 2 groups, one group receives exercise handouts with pictures and instructions and the other group will receive an iPad mini with video demonstrations of the exercises. Both groups are prescribed strengthening and stretching exercises and a walking program, by a licensed physical therapist, to carry out for 6 months. The aim is to determine the effectiveness of the virtual versus print instructions on physical activity in individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.