By C. Brandon Chapman, College of Education

Collette Edge’s research presentation on Parkinson’s disease and fitness therapy recently won the grand prize for outstanding work at the College of Education’s 2018 semi‑annual Bruya‑Wood Undergraduate Research Conference.

The conference, which is hosted twice a year by the college’s kinesiology program on the Pullman campus, gives undergraduates the chance to both conduct research and learn how to effectively present it, often to a lay audience. A panel of judges hears the presentation and has the opportunity to ask questions.

Edge’s research was titled “Parkinson’s HAAO group fitness to maintain improved motor function post-therapy”.

Edge noted, there are three main treatment options for Parkinson’s disease, a chronic neuro-degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Along with their respective pros and cons, they are:

  • Pharmacology: Effective in early stages, but with hard side effects.
  • Physical Therapy: Effective short‑term, but expensive and time consuming.
  • Deep brain stimulation: Successful in late stages, but invasive and high‑risk.

Using research literature based on high-amplitude therapy, as well as group action-observation therapy, Edge presented something called High-Amplitude Action-Observation (HAAO) group fitness.

As a practical application, Edge said, HAAO group fitness includes maximum sustained movements like reaching from floor to ceiling and side to side, as well as repetitive movements like a step‑and‑reach, rock‑and‑reach, etc.

“One nice thing is that unlike physical therapy, because this is a group setting, it offsets some of the high costs,” she said.

Edge’s conclusions included:

  • High amplitude movement and speech, as well as group action-observation therapy, have been proven to decrease symptoms for moderate level Parkinson’s disease progression.
  • HAAO supports individuals with Parkinson’s by providing post‑therapy maintenance of movement/speech and additional increased quality of life through community support.

Edge has been a group fitness instructor for the last 13 years on the Palouse before going back to school. She said she wants to work in therapy for vulnerable populations, such as people with Parkinson’s disease. She will continue on to graduate school in occupational therapy.