The Movement Science Group at Oxford Brookes University announced plans to work with Indian Ocean Row 17.

The Movement Science Group explores factors affecting optimal human performance in health and disease. They want to investigate how people cope with the prolonged physical and mental stresses of Ocean Rowing


Professor Helen Dawes hopes to offer further scientific proof. “Anyone involved in sport will know that motor skills improve when you practice a skill and that your motor control is affected when you are tired,” she explains.

“However, with technological developments we are able to use body sensors to monitor motor skill changes, alongside physiological and emotional responses. This will help us to understand how the neuro-muscular system copes and adapts to prolonged stress,” she continues.

Helen, along with Billy, spoke on BBC Radio Oxford on Tuesday 18  February at 3pm. She talked about this new research partnership and explained in more detail how the data gathering will take place and the impact that this research may have in the long term.

This is believed to be the first time that someone with Parkinson’s has performed such a challenge. The Movement Science Group will be able to monitor how both those with and without are responding second by second, utilising Billy as a control subject. This information will help inform research exploring how best to approach exercise and activity for people with Parkinson’s; for example, how to manage medication and nutrition in order to optimise their performance, health and well-being.

Dr Shelly Coe

Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes University

Many lifestyle factors including physical activity and diet can influence the symptom severity and overall quality of life of those with Parkinson’s. However little research is out there on the best dietary approaches for well being in Parkinson’s.

World recognised research to date in the Movement Science Group at Oxford Brookes has looked at physical activity and nutrition to improve quality of life in those with Parkinson’s.

We will assess diet at baseline before the row, and also during the row using what is called a ‘food diary’. This will give an indication of the diet in both men before the row, and also over the 2 month rowing period to see how this changes with continuous exercise. We will also collect data on wellness and symptoms pre row and during the row to see how these are affected by the challenge.

This will be a ‘case study’ looking into how nutritional intake can influence disease related changes that take place during long periods of rowing.  We will also advise on the food choices taken on the row, in order to ensure proper nutrition is available during the 2 month period.