In People with Parkinson’s disease, falls are a common event but pose serious health risks. Falls are frequently caused by gait impairments, postural instability and freezing-of-gait, a brief absence of forward momentum of the feet despite the intention to walk.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Shake It Up Australia Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has given grants to a team of researchers from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) to test eHealth and smart garment technologies to prevent falls in people with Parkinson’s disease, reports Neura.
The neuro-rehabilitation program, known as StandingTall-PD, uses visual, audio and sensory cues to help rewire the parts of the brain that control walking in people with Parkinson’s. The program aims to prevent freezing-of-gait and falls, and enhance participants’ independence.
Sensoria, who has won the Innovation World Cup® Special Prize in Smart Clothing in 2014/15, invested in the program to develop textile sensor infused Smart Socks with haptic feedback and core microelectronics for the study.
Dr Matthew Brodie and study leader Kim Delbaere, an Associate Professor, both from Neura, are working with Sensoria Health to make StandingTall-PD the leading eHealth solution for maximizing mobility and preventing falls in people with Parkinson’s disease.
“Existing dopamine therapies offer benefit in treating motor dysfunction in Parkinson’s but may not alleviate gait and balance challenges,” says Jamie L. Hamilton, PhD, MJFF Associate Director. “This project has the potential to become an affordable option to address gait and balance issues and improve overall quality-of-life for people with Parkinson’s.”
Each participant will receive a NeuRA training mat with color-coded stepping targets, a pair of Sensoria Smart Socks, an iPad and a phone. The participants will be encouraged daily to step on colored stepping targets that match a series of colors displayed on their iPad. They will also listen to rhythmic auditory cues like music and a metronome beat that are synchronized with the vibrating Smart Socks.
The combination of visual, audio and sensory elements helps to form new connections in less affected parts of the brain, leading to improved walking ability.
“At Sensoria Health, we are honored to partner with NeuRA and The Michael J. Fox Foundation and Shake It Up Australia Foundation and look forward to working together to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease,” says Davide Vigano, CEO of Sensoria Health Inc.