Following the AGM of the Parkinson's Disease Society, Winchester branch,

Emma Stack, senior research fellow at the health and rehabilitation unit, Southampton University, told Winchester's branch of the Parkinson's Disease Society, about its work.

The unit provides information to all medical people and teaches those who have been disabled in some way as a result of brain injury due to accidents, strokes, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's.

Initially trained as a physiotherapist, she now works specifically on Parkinson's. Her Ph.D research project was to find early symptoms, which would highlight when was the right time to refer patients to specialist doctors or physiotherapists.

Risk of falling, difficulty in turning and how long it took to turn and start walking again were characteristic signs of the disease, she said.

Many Winchester branch members had taken part in the research in their homes, where it had been found a more accurate assessment could be made than in a hospital environment.

New drugs were designed to protect the part of the brain that was affected, thus helping to eliminate or delay the onset of Parkinson's.

Emma said she hoped to begin a new research project to decide the importance of physiotherapy in the rehabilitation of Parkinson's sufferers.

Southampton had one of the biggest rehab units in the country and attracted neurologists because of the research work undertaken