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Funded Studies

A web-based assessment of visual and spatial symptoms in Parkinson's disease

Problems with visual perception (such as blurry vision or judging distances) are common in people with Parkinson’s disease. Visuospatial impairments are associated with some of the most serious motor symptoms (freezing and falling) and can affect performance of critical every day activities such as driving and reading. The purpose of this project is to create an easy-to-use online survey assessing critical, but often under-examined, visual and spatial perception deficits, motor functioning, and performance of visually controlled everyday activities.
Project Description:
To ensure that the Web site can be easily used by people with PD, we will first conduct a focus group. Focus group members will comment on the appearance and optimal ways to navigate the website. To confirm that the Web-based survey is comparable to the original paper questionnaire, participants in the study will be asked to complete both measures and their answers will be compared. To determine that the tool is valid, self-assessed abilities of visual perception, motor symptoms, and daily functioning will be compared with participant’s performance on commonly used standardized measures of these abilities.
Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
Visuospatial deficits are an underappreciated non-motor symptom of PD, affecting a majority of PD patients, and are associated with impaired performance of critically important daily activities. For this reason, documenting and monitoring these symptoms are necessary for accurately characterizing and evaluating interventions for motor and non-motor symptoms. This measure, completed remotely, may allow rapid identification of serious visual and visuospatial impairments as well as sensitive monitoring of these common non-motor symptoms.
Anticipated Outcome: 
The goal for this project is to create a valid and reliable Web-based assessment of vision and spatial skills that is easy for people with Parkinson’s disease to complete. In the future, Web-based assessment will lead to the inclusion of a wider range of participants in terms of age and disease severity as both may be barriers to clinical trial participation when travel to the research center is required.

Progress Report

The current study is developing a standardized, reliable, and validated web-based version of a preexisting questionnaire that assesses PD-related vision and visuospatial symptoms, activities of daily living (ADL), and motor symptoms. To develop a web-based tool that would be used by individuals with PD, feedback was sought about the appearance, organization, and navigation of the web-based assessment by conducting a focus group. Current assessment of feasibility suggests that this tool is easy to use as all participants completed the web-based measure and generally rate the burden of study involvement as low. Initial analyses indicate that the online tool is a reliable version of the paper and pencil questionnaire. Validation of the self-report measure by comparing self-assessed abilities of vision and visuospatial perception, ADLs, and motor symptoms with commonly used standardized measures of these abilities is ongoing. It is our intention that the development of a reliable and valid web-based tool will reduce barriers to research involvement because participants can complete the measure in their own home at their convenience. Home-based assessments will allow participation by PD patients with more severe motor disability than those who usually volunteer for lab-based research studies, which would help us to better understand the disease in the more severely affected group.


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