Sunday September 22, 2019

Smart Garments to Prevent Falls in Parkinson’s Patients

In addition, clinicians can monitor participants' progress remotely and adjust the programme to provide ongoing and personalised continuity of care

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10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay
10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay

A team of researchers are in the process of developing smart garment technologies that would prevent falls in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Falls, which are frequently caused by gait impairments and postural instability, are common and often devastating in the lives of people with Parkinson’s – a neurodegenerative disease.

The researchers from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and University of New South Wales (UNSW) are set to make StandingTall-PD — a neuro-rehabilitation programme — that aims to prevent freezing-of-gait and falls, and enhance patients’ independence.

The programme uses visual, audio and haptic sensory cues to help rewire the parts of the brain that control walking and preventing falls in people with Parkinson’s disease.

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, the researchers said.

Now, smart garments to prevent falls in Parkinson’s patients.

“Existing dopamine therapies offer benefit in treating motor dysfunction in Parkinson’s but may not alleviate gait and balance challenges,” said Jamie L. Hamilton, Associate Director at the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) in the US.

“The new programme 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,” said Hamilton.

For the study, researchers will give participants a mat with colour-coded stepping targets, a pair of Sensoria Smart Socks, an iPad and phone.

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The programme can help enable participants to self-manage and monitor their own progress via an app on their phone. The app can also trigger stimuli during everyday activities, such as vibration in their Smart Socks, if they are in danger of experiencing freezing-of-gait, falls or if they show signs of shuffling feet.

In addition, clinicians can monitor participants’ progress remotely and adjust the programme to provide ongoing and personalised continuity of care. (IANS)

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Researchers To Develop Novel Therapy For Treating Parkinson’s Disease

Researchers developing new therapy to treat Parkinson's disease

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10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay
10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay

Cell replacement may play an increasing role in alleviating the symptoms such as movement problems and memory loss of Parkinson’s disease (PD), researchers say.

The most common PD treatment today is based on enhancing the activity of the nigrostriatal pathway in the brain with dopamine-modulating therapies, thereby increasing striatal dopamine levels and improving motor impairment associated with the disease.

However, this treatment has significant long-term limitations and side effects.

“We are in desperate need of a better way of helping people with PD. It is on the increase worldwide. There is still no cure, and medications only go part way to fully treat incoordination and movement problems,” said Claire Henchcliffe, MD, from Weill Cornell Medicine in the US.

Parkinsons
Parkinson’s is caused by a lack of dopamine made by brain cells. (IANS)

Recent strides in stem cell technology mean that quality, consistency, activity, and safety can be assured, and that it is possible to grow essentially unlimited amounts of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the laboratory for transplantation, said a study, published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

“We are moving into a very exciting era for stem cell therapy. The first-generation cells are now being trialed and new advances in stem cell biology and genetic engineering promise even better cells and therapies in the future,” said Malin Parmar, postdoctoral candidate from the Lund University in Sweden.

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“There is a long road ahead in demonstrating how well stem cell-based reparative therapies will work, and much to understand about what, where, and how to deliver the cells, and to whom,” said Parmar. (IANS)