Improving coordination in Posterior Cortical Atrophy and Alzheimer’s disease

Research project: Developing strategies to support reaching and coordination for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease

Lead Investigator: Dr Keir Yong

  • Institution: University College London
  • Grant type: Junior Fellowship
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Amount: £224,054.92

Why did we fund this research?

Comments from our Research Network volunteers:

'The lead applicant is clearly a pioneer in this field of research'

Project summary

Reaching and coordination difficulties are some of the earliest symptoms of posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), the most common atypical form of Alzheimer’s disease.

These difficulties can restricts independent eating, dressing and bathing for people affected by dementia.

This project aims to identify the best conditions for reliable reaching and coordination. This will help to inform practical strategies that will will help people with Alzheimer's disease to remain independent for longer.  

The background

PCA is known as the ‘visual variant of Alzheimer’s disease’. At the earliest stages people with PCA have problems with their vision.

Evidence now suggests that although reaching and coordination in PCA are affected by visual problems they are also affected by a change in perception of body position 'My hands don’t belong to me anymore'.

Research to date into understanding these changes to reaching and coordination in PCA has focused on diagnoses rather than developing strategies to help those with the condition cope with these symptoms. 

What does this project involve?

This project aims to develop strategies to help people with PCA and Alzheimer’s disease with  activities such as eating and dressing that involve reaching and coordniation.

Dr Yong aims to find the best conditions for people with PCA and Alzheimer’s disease for reaching and coordinating these everyday activities. 

The research team will ask 20 people with PCA, 20 people with Alzheimer’s disease and 20 healthy people to complete a number of tests.

Firstly the team will test reaching and coordination in a sensory and movement laboratory. Secondly they will observe participants carrying out everyday tasks at home. 

How will this project help people with dementia?

The results from this project will give practical strategies to support activities that are vital to independence and well being such as locating items, showering, washing and dressing. 

The research team hope the project will benefit not only individuals living with rarer forms of dementia such as PCA  but also people with more typical Alzheimer’s disease who have developed similar problems with coordination in addition to memory problems. 

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