Postural instability and resultant falls are very common in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, the pathophysiology underlying postural instability in PD is insufficiently understood. The aim of this project is to develop and validate the use of an MRI compatible balance simulator to study the areas in the brain involved in balance control. More specifically, we are interested in the differences in activation of and communication between the brain areas involved in balance control between healthy older adults and patients with PD.
Somatosensory receptors and peripheral nerve fibres are known to change over the course of healthy ageing. This project investigates how aging influences somatosensory reflex characteristics in active postural muscles during standing. In addition, this project investigates how ageing influences the spinal integration of muscle and cutaneous sensory feedback from the leg and foot during standing.