New Investigator Award will allow Kinesiology neuroscientist to research Parkinson’s

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Kaylena Ehgoetz Martens.

Kinesiology Professor Kaylena Ehgoetz Martens has received a New Investigator Award from Parkinson Canada, worth $90,000 over two years. Ehgoetz Martens, a neuroscientist, will further study our understanding of how anxiety contributes to freezing of gait in order to develop technological solutions to predict freezing in advance, when patients are in their home settings.

“Freezing of gait is one of the most debilitating clinical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that embodies this emotional-motor interaction,” Ehgoetz Martens said. “This award will allow me to continue the momentum that we have gained in understanding the underlying mechanisms of freezing of gait. In turn, we hope to uncover novel and more effective ways to rehabilitate or treat freezing of gait, which greatly impacts mobility and quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s disease.”

Ehgoetz Martens has been studying the role anxiety plays in the freezing of gait for the past decade, completing graduate studies at Waterloo, followed by postdoctoral training in Sydney, Australia. She returned to Waterloo in July 2019 as an assistant professor and continues to study how the brain controls movement and how this process fails with disease.

Ehgoetz Martens’ research combines movement kinematics, functional neuroimaging, psychophysiology and cognitive neuroscience to uncover the neural basis of gait and cognitive-emotional interactions in health and disease.

Her research project with Parkinson Canada will formally start in October, with the end goal to determine whether different sub-types of freezing of gait exist, and to provide recommendations for cognitive strategies that will help alleviate the issue. This research will be conducted in collaboration with Jen Boger in Systems Engineering, Arash Arami in Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering and George Shaker in Electrical and Computer Engineering. The Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology helped facilitate these collaborations for this funded research.

Please read more about her research with Parkinson Canada.