Exercise, Virtual Reality, and Exposing Prodromal Symptoms of Parkinson Disease: Jay Alberts, PhD


The Edward F. and Barbara A. Bell Endowed Chair at the Cleveland Clinic detailed how a new virtual reality tool elucidates prodromal symptoms from patients with Parkinson disease. [WATCH TIME: 3 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 3 minutes

"What we’re looking to do now is gather the data that will eventually raise a red or yellow flag so that you go to the neurologist because your vitals look a little off. Those are things that we hope to do for sure."

Prodromal Parkinson disease (PD) refers to a stage at which individuals do not fulfill diagnostic criteria for PD but do exhibit signs and symptoms that indicate a higher-than-average risk of developing motor symptoms and a diagnosis of PD in the future. Literature has shown that most prodromal symptoms are nonmotor and have a major impact on quality of life for both patients with prodromal PD and for those whose disease stage has progressed to motor-PD. Hyposmia, constipation, mood disorders, and REM sleep behavior disorder have all been well-characterized as symptoms of prodromal PD.

A new tool called the Cleveland Clinic Virtual Reality Shopping platform is continuing the efforts of diagnosis and treatment of neurological disease, including PD. This virtual reality (VR) approach quantifies performance on instrumental activities of daily living using a shopping experience, to see whether declines may be a sign of prodromal PD. Using an omnidirectional treadmill, patients are asked to complete basic and complex shopping experiences, including walking 150 m and retrieving 5 items.

In an interview with NeurologyLive®, lead investigator Jay Alberts, PhD, provided context on how the platform specifically works toward quantifying these prodromal changes, and how previous research on exercise helped formulate the study that is now underway. Alberts, the Edward F. and Barbara A. Bell Endowed Chair at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Center, also discussed the challenges in this patient population and how this VR platform further expands clinicians’ capabilities.

1. Alberts JL, McGrath M, Koop M, et al. The immersive Cleveland Clinic Virtual Reality Shopping Platform for the assessment of instrumental activities of daily living. J Vis Exp. 2022;185. doi:10.3791/63978
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