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Should I consider participating in a Clinical Trial for Parkinson's?

This is a very personal decision only you and family members can make together. Depending on symptoms and general health, a person with Parkinson's and his or her family members without Parkinson's should think about getting involved in clinical research. Researchers need volunteers to help solve the unanswered questions about Parkinson's and to develop new treatments. All the drugs currently used for treating Parkinson's are available only because other people volunteered to help researchers develop them.

Clinical research in Parkinson's disease takes many forms. A drug trial is designed to test new treatments and will require participants to follow a careful protocol and make several visits to the study center. The trials of new surgical techniques for PD are even more complicated, with extensive pre-operative screening and testing, as well as long term follow-up. Others, such as genetic studies, require only a single visit during which the researchers collect information and obtain a blood sample. All these types of research allow the discovery of new ideas and information and advance our understanding of Parkinson's.

In most trials, the medical care and study medications is provided to participants for free. People who participate in clinical research tend to receive closer attention and more frequent evaluations than people with PD in routine clinical practice. Participating in clinical trials provides people with Parkinson's with the opportunity to receive excellent care while helping to bring drugs to the market more quickly.

While clinical study participation is important, individuals should make an informed decision by educating themselves first and asking the right questions of trial coordinators. Participants in clinical research are carefully protected from harm by FDA protocol, research ethics, and careful monitoring by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) at each study site. An IRB is a committee of physicians, statisticians, researchers, advocates, and others. The IRB ensures that a trial is ethical, the rights of participants are protected, and medical information is safe-guarded. All trials in the US must be approved by an IRB before they can begin to recruit participants. A person who is interested in participating in research should speak to his or her neurologist.

To learn more about how you can connect with local clinical trials, see Clinical Trials.

Disclaimer: The information contained in these Frequently Asked Questions have been sourced by reliable, research-based publications. It is to your discretion whether or not to incorporate the education and awareness as guidance into your wellness journey with Parkinson's. The Parkinson Association of Alabama cannot be held liable for the solutions you try, and you should always consult with medical experts before trying anything new or incorporating new matters into your overall wellness plan.

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