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Researchers at OPDC are embarking on a new five-year study looking at the links between a condition known as Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD) and Parkinson’s. Funded by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre. The study seeks to improve the remote diagnosis and monitoring of sleep problems at home and is currently looking for people with Parkinson's and RBD to take part.

RBD is a sleep problem where the switch that normally turns off movement during sleep is faulty, causing people to move or shout while asleep.  A person who goes on to develop Parkinson’s may have RBD for many years before any problems with their movement begin.

The team of researchers, led by OPDC’s Michele Hu, will work with Professor Maarten De Vos in the Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering to develop computer algorithms that will provide instant diagnosis by processing the data collected from devices worn at home.

“My first aim is to identify the people with RBD who are at the highest risk of developing Parkinson’s before their symptoms appear. If we can do this, it may allow us to start them on treatment to slow down or even prevent the onset of Parkinson’s. My second aim is to understand the impact of Parkinson’s on sleep quality and whether people with Parkinson’s might benefit from treatment to help their sleep.” Michele Hu

The first phase of the study will invite patients having an NHS sleep study to wear the new kit at the same time. Having both sets of data will allow the team to ‘train’ their computer algorithms to correctly interpret the data that the wearable kit collects. The second phase of the study aims to recruit people from across the UK who have either RBD or Parkinson’s, to wear the sleep monitoring device for a few nights every six months. For further information about taking part in the study, please email

You can also watch a talk about the study and what we have already learned from our smartphone studies in the video below.