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research-and-clinical-trials

U of M researchers study “freezing of gait” in people with Parkinson’s disease

As part of April’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Health Talk is taking a closer look at some current University of Minnesota research projects that will help better understand the disease and what new research can do for future treatment and intervention.

Within the U of M’s Movement Disorders Laboratory, Colum MacKinnon, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Medical School’s Department of Neurology is examining “freezing of gait” – an issue seen in roughly half of all patients with Parkinson’s disease. MacKinnon and fellow researchers are hopeful new research could advance understanding of the issue.

The aforementioned “freezing of gait” is characterized by the episodic or spontaneous inability to start or maintain forward progress during walking.

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expert-perspectives

Make the most out of Daylight Saving Time

This weekend, we spring ahead and lose an hour of sleep as part of Daylight Saving Time. For many people, this may create some problems only because they forgot to set their clock ahead before going to bed.

For those who tend to be night owls, shift workers, or who have sleep disorders, it can be more problematic. The additional loss of precious sleep can be a more substantial problem. When we are sleepy, we often don’t perform as well at work and are more likely to make mistakes and have car accidents.

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expert-perspectives

Sleep key component to athletic performance

The world’s best athletes are descending upon Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Every elite athlete looks for an edge against their competitors to improve their athletic performance but what if the answer was as simple as getting more sleep?

According to Michael Howell, M.D., a sleep expert within the Department of Neurology, that’s precisely what elite athletes excel at.

“The best athletes I’ve ever met are extremely good sleepers,” said Howell. “Although you may not think your brain is doing much during sleep, your brain is putting connections together and it is amplifying circuits that are important.”

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: Endovascular gene therapy is a viable drug delivery approach for Hurler’s syndrome

New research from the Department of Neurology at the University of Minnesota may help bolster new treatment approaches for Hurler’s syndrome.

In a recent study, U of M researchers compared the efficacy of endovascular vs. intracerebral ventricular delivery of a viral gene therapy vector in an animal model and found that endovascular gene therapy is a viable drug delivery approach for many brain diseases, including Hurler’s syndrome.

The latest research was led by Christopher Janson, M.D., a resident in the Department of Neurology at the University of Minnesota, and was recently published in the journal Neurosurgery.

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research-and-clinical-trials

HIV protein may impact neurocognitive impairment in infected patients

A protein shed by HIV-infected brain cells alters synaptic connections between networks of nerve cells, according to new research out of the University of Minnesota. The findings could explain why nearly half of all patients infected with the AIDS virus experience some level of neurocognitive impairment.

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expert-perspectives

Batter up! Sleep can improve baseball, other motor skills

In previous posts, Health Talk has pointed to a number of benefits quality sleep can have on your personal health.

Despite the fact quality sleep can reduce your risk of heart disease, decrease stress and alleviate high blood pressure, sleep is a valued commodity that many people struggle to obtain. Others simply underestimate the affects it can have on their quality of life.

University of Minnesota Physicians sleep expert Michael Howell, M.D., recently investigated the relationship between sleep and human performance, with a focus on athletics in particular.

Howell found that athletic performance is improved by optimizing sleep.

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