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Gammon Earhart

"Please make a gift today so that researchers with big ideas but little funding will get the chance to make a difference the way that I did."

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Video: Shall We Dance?

As a neuroscientist and a physical therapist, I am working to make a difference in the fight against Parkinson’s disease through the study of exercise. This holiday season, I am excited to update you on my research, which was made possible by your support of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

Dr. Earhart video

In 2005, when I was studying movement and Parkinson’s disease, I heard about a study in which elderly individuals (who did not have Parkinson’s) were able to improve their balance through Argentinian Tango dancing. This made me wonder, could Tango also benefit people with Parkinson’s disease? In 2010 and 2011, I received financial support from PDF’s International Research Grants Program, to study this question.

During the course of two years, my colleagues and I worked with 52 volunteers with Parkinson’s disease who were experiencing problems with movement and balance. Half of these people took Tango classes for a year, while the other half kept their normal exercise routines.

I am excited to tell you that the people with Parkinson’s disease in the Tango classes were able to walk further and faster and experienced improvements in their balance. With their increased mobility, they were able to return to many social and leisure activities that they had previously given up.

Now, thanks to PDF’s support, my team has received a larger grant from the National Institutes of Health to launch our next round of research. We will compare how Tango dancing and other forms of exercise might actually change activity in the brain. Hopefully our results will translate into a way of improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease.

Please make a gift today so that researchers with big ideas but little funding will get the chance to make a difference the way that I did.

Gammon M. Earhart, P.T., Ph.D.
PDF-funded researcher, 2010-2012
Associate Professor, Physical Therapy,
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

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If you have or believe you have Parkinson’s disease, then promptly consult a physician and follow your physician’s advice. This email is not a substitute for a physician’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease or for a physician’s prescription of drugs, treatment or operations for Parkinson’s.