QUT Light4PD – Photoreceptor-directed light therapy in Parkinson’s disease

Research team contacts

Principal Researcher:
Associate Prof Beatrix Feigl, MD, PhD
Professor Andrew J Zele, PhD
Professor Graham Kerr, PhD
Mr Drew Carter, BEng, MPhil
Dr Manuela Russo, PhD
Mr Subodh Gnyawali, MPH
Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
Professor Simon Lewis, MD
University of Sydney

Associate Researcher(s):
Dr Daniel Schweitzer, MD, PhD
Dr Lucy Burr, MD, PhD
Mater Hospital, Brisbane

What is the purpose of the research?

The purpose of this research is to determine the effect of a daily, short duration (30 min) artificial light exposure on sleep and movement in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Are you looking for people like me?

The research team is inviting people with Parkinson’s disease with healthy eyes (with or without glasses), no known eye or systemic disease (such as diabetes), who can walk unaided and have no severe sleep apnoea or limb movement disorder.

What will you ask me to do?

Your participation will involve three laboratory visits to QUT Kelvin Grove and four short home visits from one of the research team members during a period of 6 weeks.

First laboratory visit at QUT:
– Your suitability for the study will be determined through a basic eye examination to determine how well you see and how your pupils react to light.
– Assessment of your sleep quality and mood using short questionnaires (can be done at home at your own convenience).
– Assessment of your balance and gait (i.e. by simply walking on a matt).
– At the end of the visit we will put sensors (like an electrocardiogram sensor of the heart, but much smaller) on your skin around your head, chest, arms and legs to measure your sleep overnight in your own home.
– We will ask you to provide saliva samples for sleep hormone collection (by chewing on a cotton swab for a couple of minutes and put it in the provided small tube), every hour starting at six hours before you usually go to bed and then a final one approximately an hour after going to bed on that day.
– We will give you a watch-like device (called an actiwatch) that measures daily light exposure and activity; the actiwatch should be worn on your wrist at all times (except when in the shower or bath) for the next 2 weeks, like a normal watch.

First home visit by research team member: (next morning after your first laboratory visit):
– Remove the sleep sensors and collect the saliva samples.
– We will bring the light box and show you how to use it. We will ask you to use it for 30 minutes every day (either in the morning or late afternoon) for four weeks.

Second home visit by research team member (after two weeks):
– We will exchange the actiwatch for recharging, and provide you with a new actiwatch for the following 2 weeks.

Third home visit by research team member (at 4 weeks, day before the second laboratory visit at QUT):
– Provide another set of tubes for saliva sleep hormone collection (same procedure).
– You will do another overnight sleep test at home after the sensors have been put in place by the researcher.

Second laboratory visit at QUT:
– You will repeat all the tests (pupil, gait, balance and tremor) as well as the questionnaires (can be done at home at your own convenience).
– We will provide you with another actiwatch for final two weeks.

Fourth home visit by research team member (week 6, day before the third laboratory visit at QUT):
– Provide another set of tubes for saliva sleep hormone collection (same procedure).
– You will do another overnight sleep test at home after the sensors have been put in place by the researcher

Third laboratory session at QUT:
– You will repeat the pupil, gait, balance and tremor tests and the questionnaires (can be done at home at your own convenience).

During the six weeks we also ask you to maintain a sleep diary every day where you provide short written answers on questions such as how long you slept. The research team will be in regular contact with you during the study using your preferred method of communication (e.g. text message, phone, email).

Are there any risks for me in taking part?

All tests used in the assessment of your eyes, movement and sleep are commonly used in clinical practice. We will ensure that you receive optimal care in all tests performed, and we are focused on your health and well-being. The research team does not believe there are any risks beyond normal day-to-day living associated with performing these tests. Supplemental Light therapy is commonly used in studies (including in people with PD) as well as a self-therapy at home in people who experience sleep problems or winter (seasonal) depression or other mood disorders. There are no severe risks reported in clinical trials using light therapy. In a very small proportion of people the most common discomfort some might experience is temporary headaches that go away when light therapy is discontinued. It should be noted that if you do agree to participate you can withdraw from participation in the research project without comment or penalty.

Are there any benefits for me in taking part?

You might also enjoy being actively involved in your own care by applying the light. We offer you also one on one time with experts in the field of this research through the research team members. In the long term, we hope that our research will provide better treatment options of sleep disruption and consequently movement in all people with Parkinson’s disease.

Will I be compensated for my time?

To recognise your contribution and as an appreciation of your time should you choose to participate, the research team is offering participants, department store vouchers at a value of AUD$30.00 after completion of the study (6 weeks).

The research team will provide cab vouchers to pay for your travel between QUT and your home.

Who is funding this research?

The research project is funded by the Michael J Fox Foundation and the Shake IT UP Australia Foundation, however they will not have access to any information obtained during the research project that could be used to personally identify you (all data is de-identified to ensure privacy and confidentiality).

I am interested – what should I do next?

If you are interested in participating in this study, please contact:

A/Prof Beatrix Feigl
Email: light4PD@qut.edu.au
Phone: 07 3138 6147

You will be provided with further information to ensure that your decision and consent to participate is fully informed.

QUT Ethics Approval Number: 2000000435

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