• A Canberra dance group is celebrating World Parkinson’s Day through a series of performances that show the disease is no barrier to hitting the dance floor.
• Researcher Kelly-Ann Bowles who specialises in bra design will work from a Victorian MP’s office as part of a program linking scientists and politicians.
• Researchers from the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne analysed the DNA of 64 Australians who died from Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) and found a sizeable number had a heart gene fault that caused an irregular heartbeat.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 11th of April 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
A Canberra dance group is celebrating World Parkinson’s Day through a series of performances that show the disease is no barrier to hitting the dance floor.
Dance for Parkinson’s ACT helps people with the disease through movement and music.
The idea originated in Brooklyn in 2001 and the first Canberra class was held in 2013.
Research has shown that music and dance can help ease some of the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s, and improve strength and balance.
But dance instructor Philip Piggin said the impact of the dance group was much greater.
“This provides a really safe, supportive environment,” he said.
“People come along regularly, we have a lot of laughs together, we have a lot of fun and I think that’s a very important part.”
For one dancer, Margaret Healy, it has made a world of difference.
Ms Healy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010 — the same year her husband and a close friend died.
“[It] left me, in a way, having to look to not start a new life, but have a different way of life,” she said.
Parkinson’s is commonly associated with shaking but can manifest itself in several different ways.
“For me it showed itself in a lot of soreness and stiffness in my body, and rigidity and walking was quite difficult,” Ms Healy said.
“With Parkinson’s you can have sort of an apathy that makes it difficult to do things, so it’s very important to have things that are fun to do, otherwise you won’t do them.
“The dancing really does fit into that [fun] category.”
A researcher who specialises in bra design will work from a Victorian MP’s office as part of a program linking scientists and politicians.
Monash University human movement scientist Dr Kelly-Ann Bowles will spend two days a week at the office of Opposition health spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge as part of the researcher-in-residence scheme.
The program, an initiative of Biomedical Research Victoria, aims to establish links between parliamentarians and the health research community.
Dr Bowles said she hoped to use her time to organise a roundtable so Ms Wooldridge could meet with biomedical researchers and health professionals.
Dr Bowles’s PhD looked at creating a “smart bra” that better supported large-breasted women when playing sport.
Along with lecturing and working with physiotherapy students, she continues to research bra health in her work at Monash University.
Australian scientists have discovered a possible genetic link between sudden deaths caused by epilepsy and heart problems.
Researchers from the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne analysed the DNA of 64 Australians who died from Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) and found a sizeable number had a heart gene fault that caused an irregular heartbeat.
Richard Bagnall, the Centenary Institute’s senior research officer who led the study, said the preliminary finding was a crucial first step in understanding SUDEP and how it could be prevented.
Dr Bagnall said his team of five spent three years analysing DNA samples.
“These people didn’t know that they had a heart problem, so in our future studies we’d like to monitor patients with epilepsy and then if they do [die from] SUDEP we can retrospectively look back and see if they really did have any heart problems,” he said.
Dr Bagnall said understanding the genetic basis of SUDEP might inform the future diagnosis of at-risk family members and provide opportunities for prevention.
“These gene faults are inherited and so there’s a 50 per cent chance that a family member will also inherit the gene fault, so it’s important that they are screened,” Dr Bagnall said.
Until now the cause of sudden unexpected death of epilepsy patients was unknown.