Current Research Studies Recruiting Participants

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

Moving Mindfully

Washington University is recruiting people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and freezing of gait (FOG) to participate in a Mindfulness-Based Walking Therapy (MBWT) program. Mindfulness interventions help with other chronic conditions, and they have modified the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program to meet the needs of people with PD.

Participation will include three evaluation sessions lasting about two hours each that will include questionnaires and tests of movement and thinking. Participants will also need to come to weekly in-person classes for fourteen weeks (includes an orientation class, twelve-weeks of mindfulness classes, and a half-day retreat) at the Program in Physical Therapy, located at 4444 Forest Park.

Eligibility criteria include no other neurological diseases (besides PD), able to walk with or without an assistive device for five continuous minutes, experience FOG, and a fear of falling and/or frustration or worry in relation to the freezing of gait. Participants will be paid $25 for each evaluation session.

For more information, contact Martha at 314-286-1478 or Call soon, classes will start in late August 2022!

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

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

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