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Cycling 'boosts nerve connections' impaired in Parkinson's

Neuroscientist Dr Jay Alberts of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute led a team of scientists who carried out brains scans on 26 Parkinson's patients using a technique called functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI).

FcMRI flags up the functional connectivity of different brain regions by measuring changes in blood flow.

US scientists say cycling leads to greater connectivity between brain regions linked to Parkinson's Credit: Adam Davy /PA Wire

The patients underwent sessions on exercise bikes three times a week for two months as part of the study.

Some of the patients pedalled at their own pace, while others were forced to cycle faster by motors fitted to their bikes.

Dr Albert said the scans showed that cycling faster boosted the nerve connections between the primary motor cortex and thalamus - which is vital to co-ordinated movement and impaired in Parkinson's patients.

US scientists claim pedalling aids Parkinson's patients

Patients with Parkinson's disease may be able to reduce their symptoms by emulating Tour de France winner and Olympic hero Bradley Wiggins, new research suggests.

Scientists in the US say their study shows cycling leads to greater connectivity between brain regions linked to the disease.

Vigorous "forced" pedalling was key to the changes, which were associated with improvements in both co-ordination and balance, scientists at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute claim.

The research lends support to anecdotal evidence that cycling alleviates the symptoms of Parkinson's, which causes shaking, rigidity and slow movement.


Health Department has shown 'no leadership'

The Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts has said that the Health Department has not implemented its own plan for improving care for people with neurological conditions as set out in a 2005 report:

The Department [of Health] left the implementation to local health commissioners but gave them no leadership at all. It set no baselines and failed to monitor progress and so could not hold them to account where things went wrong. The present Government needs to understand what went wrong here for the future.

– Margaret Hodge MP, Chair, Committee of Public Accounts

MPs call for urgent improvement in neurological care

The Public Accounts Committee will today publish recommendations for care for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease or multiple sclerosis.

It comes as new figures suggest that emergency admissions have increased at the same time as NHS spending on such conditions has risen. In the past three years:

  • Spending on neurological conditions is up by 40%
  • Emergency admissions is up by 32%
  • Readmissions within 28 days is up from 11.2% to 14%