Current Research Studies Recruiting Participants

We recommend you speak to your doctor’s office before enrolling in a research trial or study.

Study in Parkinson Disease of Exercise Phase 3 Clinical Trial: SPARX3

Washington University is seeking volunteers to participate in a clinical research trial to learn more about the effects of aerobic exercise on people with Parkinson’s disease.


People who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease within the last 3 years and are not yet taking medication for your PD symptoms
People who do not plan to start medication for PD within the next 6 months
People who are willing to take part in a regular treadmill exercise program 4x/week for 18 months and participate in study visits periodically for 24 months
Participants who are 40-80 years old
Participants who are not already participating in a structured exercise program

Principal Investigator: Gammon Earhart Department: Program in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine

Contact Martha Hessler at 314-286-1478 or

Improvisational Movement Classes (IMPROVment®)

From late January to mid-March, Washington University will host group IMPROVment® classes, a fun and engaging exercise class originally developed for people with PD that involves spontaneous improvised movement. Classes will be offered via Zoom and/or in-person two times per week for one hour each (format and schedule TBD based on availability and participant preferences). For more information, please contact Julie Chen at (408) 253-9929 or or Alex Tan at (574) 318-6119 or

Lower Back Pain Study

The Movement and Neurodegenerative Disease group at Washington University is studying how low back pain affects movement and quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Low back pain is common in people with and without Parkinson’s.  However, it is unclear if and how specific features of PD contribute to the low back pain.  The purpose of this study is to determine if and how low back pain in people with Parkinson’s disease differs from low back pain in adults without PD.  Participation involves one laboratory visit (3-4 hours) to test movement and sensation.  Participants will be paid up to $25 total.  (IRB # 201910083

People with and without low back pain and Parkinson’s disease.
People without Parkinson’s disease who have low back pain.

Contact Martha Hessler at 314-286-1478 or

Walking and Music Study

The purpose of this Washington University study is to determine how music and singing can enhance walking ability among people with and without Parkinson disease (PD).  There are two sessions in the lab, both taking approximately two to three hours each. There will be questionnaires, walking assessments, finger, and health history. Benefits and risks will be discussed with volunteers as part of the informed consent process. Participants will be paid up to $200 for participating. (IRB #201908117)


1. Participants must be over 30 years old with or without Parkinson disease.
2. Participants must be right handed (or ambidextrous).
3. Participants must have normal hearing.
4. Participants must not have any other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke or cardiac problems that would interfere with safe participation.
5. Participants must not have any contraindications for magnetic resonance imaging (i.e., metallic implants, severe claustrophobia, uncontrolled tremor or dyskinesia).
6. Participants must be able to walk for 10 continuous minutes independently.

Contact Martha Hessler at 314-286-1478 or

Walking Study

A Washington University research study seeks participants 30 years and older with Parkinson disease.  You are invited to participate in a research study designed to improve and support your walking health. The program is intended to be flexible and completed over a 12-month period. Eligible participants will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. Both groups will have up to 8 visits with a licensed physical therapist. The program will include walking and exercises to improve walking capacity. One group will use an application or “app” through a smartphone or tablet for the walking and home exercise program, and the other group will use photos and paper instructions for the walking and home exercise program. See flyer.

You may be eligible to participate in this study if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with Parkinson disease
  • Are able to walk without assistance for at least 10 continuous minutes
  • Are able to come to the study site at Washington University School of Medicine for physical therapy and evaluation sessions

Contact Martha Hessler at 314-286-1478 or

Sleep Study

Wash U. is seeking participants for a research study. The purpose of the study is to learn if light therapy reduces sleep problems associated with Parkinson’s disease and improves quality of life. You might qualify if you are 45 years of age or older, have Parkinson’s disease, and have problems with sleep.

See flyer.

The study lasts 16 weeks with five study visits. Each visit will last up to 4 hours and up to $250.00 is provided for time and effort.

Contact Mengesha Teshome at 314-747-8420 or

Memory Intervention for PD Research Study

We are seeking individuals with PD age 40 and older who are interested in a cognitive intervention study. This study includes weekly in-home visits over a 3 month period:

  • A pre-testing session (1.5 hours)
  • Up to 10 cognitive intervention sessions (1-1.5 hours each)
  • a post-testing session (1.5 hours)
  • A final set of questionnaires 3 months after the study

You will be compensated for your time

Contact Tasha Doty or call 785-865-8943

Group Cognitive Stimulation Therapy

From late January to mid-March, Washington University will host a group Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) course. Classes will be offered via Zoom and/or in-person two times per week for one hour each (format and schedule TBD based on availability and participant preferences). This group course involves activities that promote thinking, memory, and communication skills geared for individuals with cognitive impairments. Research has shown that CST improves cognition and quality of life for those with dementia. For more information, please contact Zainab Ali at (618) 580-0641 or or YeaJi Kim at (214) 601-9619 or

Deep Brain Stimulation Survey

Have you had DBS in the past 12 months? Researchers at Southeast Missouri State University are exploring patients perceptions regarding quality of life after receiving deep brain stimulation surgery. Perception of quality of life is related to physical health, social engagement, psychological status, and environment. The survey is 13 questions and will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. Click here to take the survey.

Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Participation in Exercise?

If you have Parkinson’s disease and were participating in any type of exercise class at least once per week before the pandemic, please click here to complete a brief survey for exercisers. 

If you were teaching any type of exercise class for people with Parkinson’s prior to the pandemic, please click here to complete a brief survey for instructors.

This study is being conducted by the Program in Physical Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis. The ultimate goal of these surveys is to learn the best ways to support exercise for people with PD during the current pandemic and in the future. For questions about the study please contact Gammon Earhart at

Empowerment Needs Survey

APDA Greater St. Louis Chapter and Washington University have teamed up to improve the healthcare experience of people living with Parkinson’s disease. Help us understand your healthcare experience by completing the Parkinson’s Disease Empowerment Needs Survey. Contact Eunyoung Kang at

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy – At Home

We are seeking individuals with PD and their caregiver who would be interested in participating in a study involving activities and discussions focused on thinking and memory This study includes:

  • A PRE-testing session (45 mins)
  • 10-week in home intervention sessions suggested to complete 3x/week (30-45 mins)
  • A POST-testing session (45 mins)

If you are interested, please contact Tasha Doty at or 314-362-7160

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