Clinical Research

Clinical Trials

A clinical trial is a research study that looks into the safety and usefulness of a drug in improving symptoms or slowing, stopping, or reversing the progression of a disease. Most drugs tested in clinical trials are not yet available in drug stores (Phase I, II, III studies) while some studies involve medications that are already available (Phase IV studies).

Deep Brain Stimulation Research

Drs. Foote and Okun together with a large interdisciplinary team- implant Deep Brain Stimulators that can change the rates and patterns of activity in one or more of many targets including the thalamus, subthalamic nucleus, globus pallidus, internal capsule, nucleus accumbens, and other brain regions. Over the last 10 years the UF Center for Movement Disorders is in the top 5 in the world in production of research on DBS and electrical therapies and has been involved in all major DBS brain targets and disorders (e.g. PD, tremor, OCD, dystonia, Tourette, others).  Dr. Okun’s laboratory has recently turned its attention to Tourette syndrome and unlocking human tic physiology, and Dr. Foote has taken on MS tremor.

Behavior and Emotion

The Bowers Laboratory is an interdisciplinary cognitive neuroscience research laboratory involved in the study of cognitive and affective behaviors in humans and the neural systems that underlie them. Participants include patients with Parkinson’s disease, parkinsonism, dystonia and other movement disorders.  This laboratory is world renowned for its efforts to better characterize the psychophysiology associated with disease (smiles, facial expression, sweating, autonomic features, etc.).  Several major revelations for the field have emerged from their work including the first descriptions of stimulation induced smiles, and the first recognition of apathy as important in Parkinson’s disease.

Gait & Balance Research

The Applied Neuromechanics Laboratory (Hass Lab) is an interdisciplinary basic and rehabilitation focused laboratory involved in the study of walking and balance problems in individuals with Movement Disorders. Dr. Hass has partnered with the Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorehabilitation so that gait and balance assessments are integrated into our comprehensive treatment and evaluation practices.

Speech and Swallow

Current research on Parkinson’s disease is focused on examining the speech production characteristics of the dysarthria associated with Parkinson’s disease as well as the breathing and swallow dysfunction those with Parkinson’s disease exhibit. In addition, our research team is interested in determining how those characteristics are altered with traditional medications as well as more innovative rehabilitation options such as deep brain stimulation.  Dr. Sapienza and her team recently patented and published the first device that may be used to prevent aspiration pneumonia in Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders (Neurology, 2010).  Additionally, this group has studied and published extensively on cough, voice, and pulmonary function in movement disorders.