BETA- PD: Balance Elderly Training and Activity in Parkinson’s disease.

Overall aim

The BETA-PD project aims to translate knowledge from basic neuroscience into applied research and clinical understanding and implement the evaluation methods and highly-challenging balance training program into clinical practice. Our main hypothesis is that highly challenging exercise will lead to greater gait and balance ability, increased levels of physical activity and an improved health related quality of life. We also hypothesize that neuroplasticity changes will be seen in corresponding areas of the brain, and that exercise will inhibit the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the brain through the mediation of neurotrophic factors. Since there is currently no cure for PD, such a finding would revolutionize the way in which we treat the condition and possibly also other neurodegenerative disorders. This would in turn give new hope to patients of improved quality of life through extended years of functional independence and better health.

Project description

The BETA-PD study consists of several steps: method development and laboratory studies, an efficacy study, an effectiveness/implementation study and neuroplasticity studies.


Primary investigator

Senior lecturer

Erika Franzén

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 888 78
Organizational unit: Sektionen för fysioterapi

Project members/Collaborators

David Conradsson, PhD

Niklas Löfgren, Postdoc

Breiffni Leavy, Postdoc

Linda Rennie, PhD student

Håkan Nero, PhD

Hanna Johansson, PhD student

Martin Benka Wallén, Postdoc

Kirsti Skavberg-Roaldsen, PhD 

Caroline Paquette, Assistant professor

Maria Hagströmer, Associate professor

Per Svenningsson, Professor

Urban Ekman, PhD/Postdoc

Staffan Holmin, Professor

Agneta Ståhle, Professor

Johan Lökk, Professor

Espen Dietrich, Professor

Arve Opheim, PhD

Master students

Bachelor students


Financial support

The Swedish research council




National School in Health Care Sciences

NEURO Sweden

Stockholm County Council research funds

StratNeuro, Karolinska Institutet

Swedish Parkinson foundation

Parkinsons Research Foundation

Extrastiftelsen, Helse & Rehabilitering

Selected publications

Conradssson D, Paquette C, Lökk J. Franzén E. Pre- and unplanned walking turns in Parkinson's disease  - effects of dopaminergic medication. Accepted in Neuroscience 2016-10-29.

Leavy B, Skavberg Roaldsen K, Nylund K, Hagströmer M, Franzén E. Pushing the Limits’ – Rethinking Motor and Cognitive Resources after a Highly Challenging Balance Training Program for Parkinson’s Disease. Physical Therapy Journal 2016 Aug 11. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27515945

Nero H, Benka-Wallén M, Franzén E, Conradsson D, Ståhle A, Hagströmer M. Objectively assessed physical activity and its association with balance, physical function and dyskinesia in Parkinson’s disease. Accepted in Journal of Parkinson’s Disease 2016-07-26.

Löfgren N, Benka-Wallén M, Sorjonen K, Conradsson D, Franzén E. Investigating the Mini-BESTest's construct validity in elderly with Parkinson’s disease. Accepted Acta Neurologica Scandinavica 2016-06-23

Franzén E, Conradsson D, Hagströmer M, Nilsson MH Depressive symptoms associated with concerns about falling in Parkinson’s disease. Brain and Behavior 2016 Jul 21;6 (10).

Benka Wallén M, Sorjonen K, Löfgren N, Franzén E. Structural validity of the Mini-BESTest in people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease. Physical Therapy Journal 2016 Nov;96(11):1799-1806

Nero H, Benka Wallén M, Ståhle A, Franzén E, Hagströmer M. Accelerometer cut points for physical activity assessment of older adults with Parkinson´s disease. Plos One 2015; 10(9)

Conradsson D, Löfgren N, Nero H, Hagströmer M, Ståhle A, Lökk J, Franzén E. The Effects of Highly Challenging Balance Training in Elderly with Parkinson's Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair 2015 Oct;29(9):827-36.

Benka Wallén M, Nero M, Franzén E, Hagströmer M. Levels and patterns of physical activity and sedentary behavior in elderly with Parkinson’s disease. Physical Therapy 2015 Aug;95(8):1135-41.

Löfgren N, Lenholm E, Conradsson D, Ståhle A, Franzén E The Mini-BESTest - a clinically reliable tool for balance evaluations in mild to moderate Parkinson's disease? BMC Neurology 2014, 14:235  

Conradsson D, Löfgren N, Ståhle A, Hagströmer M, Franzén E. A novel conceptual framework for balance training in Parkinson's disease-study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. BMC Neurol. 2012 Sep 27;12:111. PMID:23017069, JIF(2011) 2.167 

Conradsson D, Löfgren N, Ståhle A, Franzén E. Is Highly Challenging and Progressive Balance Training Feasible in Elderly with Parkinson's Disease? Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2014 May;95(5):1000-3. PMID: 24239585 

Benka Wallén M, Dohrn I-M, Ståhle A, Franzén E, Hagströmer M. Comparison of pedometer and accelerometer derived steps in elderly individuals with Parkinson’s disease or osteoporosis under free-living conditions. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 2014 Oct;22(4):550-6.

Benka Wallén M, Nero M, Franzén E, Hagströmer M. Comparison of two accelerometer filter settings in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Physiological Measurement 2014 Nov;35(11):2287-96.