Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease resulting in the death of nerve cells responsible for releasing Dopamine in a part of the brain called the Substantia Nigra. Over 10 million people worldwide live with PD, and the population is expected to double by 2030. PD can result in a wide range of symptoms, including resting tremor, rigidity and bradykinesia. The postural instability and a symptom known as 'Freezing of Gait' (FoG) can result in walking difficulties and falls.
Visual cueing has been proven to benefit many people who suffer from FoG and it may also act to improve walking generally, by decreasing shuffling. We are working in collaboration with several neurologists and physiotherapists to gain more data about efficacy and falls reduction. You can see examples of improved stride length and increased walking speed in the below videos.
The symptom of FoG does not respond well to drug treatment. Therefore, people suffering from FoG often rely on walking canes and frames. As a result of the challenges with drug treatment, other methods, such as sensory cueing, have been pursued. As an example, physiotherapy often makes use of visual cues to improve walking in PD patients, but this is done by drawing lines on the floor. Path Finder takes this concept into a hands free device that can be used anywhere.
In Parkinson’s disease, sensory cueing such as visual and auditory, has long been proven to improve gait (Lebold and Almeida, 2011). Visual cueing in particular has been found to be more effective than other cueing methods (Sejdic et al., 2012). In addition, having an automated visual cue such as that provided by Path Finder, is more beneficial to patients than ‘on demand’ cues in reducing the FoG episodes. Automated cues reduced episodes 43% and ‘on-demand’ only 9% (Velik et al., 2012). You can read more about the scientific literature behind cueing in an article we wrote for the Advances in Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation here.