Difficult conversations have been widely studied in the contexts of the workplace and healthcare settings (12), but there has been little research conducted on difficult conversations between informal caregivers and care recipients, with no studies focusing specifically on the experience of caregivers of individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. We see this as a problem because Parkinson’s disease is distinct from other chronic health conditions; the unique nature of this disease leads to specific challenges that may not be faced in the same way by informal caregivers of individuals with other health conditions.
The aim of this research project is to better understand caregivers’ fears, concerns and experiences regarding difficult conversations so that we can begin to construct an in-depth understanding of the facilitators of, barriers to, and role of difficult conversations in the lives of informal caregivers of individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.
With such a vast array of symptoms, studies that focus on brain regions affected by disease pathology are important for understanding the driving force behind symptom severity and progression. Our lab has previously shown the overproduction of a compound known as nitric oxide (NO) in model systems that mimic Parkinson’s Disease is closely tied to loss of brain function. When NO is in excess, it can modify important proteins in the brain resulting in deleterious consequences. This overabundance of NO can lead to impairments in brain circuitry that are important for motor coordination, learning and memory. Through a targeted approach, I will identify proteins that are modified by this overproduction in NO, and block their ability to be modified. This will allow me to determine if the target protein is responsible for the pathological dysfunction that leads to the cognitive impairment seen in later stages of Parkinson’s Disease. This work will identify a number of exciting molecular candidates, important in the regulation of circuits within the brain as they relate to Parkinson’s Disease. In addition, this knowledge will advance our understanding of the link between pathology within brain cells and the symptoms experienced by people with Parkinson’s Disease.
The fellowship program at London Movement Disorder Centre at Western University incorporates clinical and research duties. The fellow will be exposed to different domains of movement disorders, specifically Parkinson’s disease.