2014 Grants

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Funding from The Parkinson Alliance helped to finance the following Parkinson's research. Grantees were selected by scientific review committees of participating organizations. Updates will be posted, when available.


Project Title:  Freezing of Gait Device

Principal Investigator:  Dr. Lily Laiho, Ph.D., Biomedical & General Engineering, California Polytechnic State University

Objective/Rationale:  Freezing of Gait (FOG) is one of the most insidious symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). While PD was identified almost 200 years ago, a majority of the research appears to be centered on research for drugs, slowing the progression of the disease, or dyskinesia (tremors) and very little on FOG. Current therapies used to aid with FOG include music therapy, metronomes to set a pace for walking, and visualizing a target. We are proposing to design a device that can incorporate multiple therapies into a single device that can be used with a cane or walker to aid with FOG.

Project Description/Methods/Design:
  The main goal of this project is to create a reliable and cost-effective device that can assist individuals with Parkinson’s Disease in decreasing instances of freezing when FOG occurs. This device would provide an option of visual and/or auditory cues to help decrease freezing.  A team of students and the PI will follow a structured design process to design, manufacture, and test this device. We will be working with a local PD support group through all phases of this study. We will create customer requirements and specifications for the final product to meet.  We will then generate conceptual designs and develop many potential solutions. Using a structured decision process, we will select our final design and create a detailed design of the device, including machine and assembly drawings. We will then manufacture a prototype, test it, and use the results to improve upon our design and create our final prototype.

Relevance to Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease: 
With over 1 million people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, assistive technology devices can be beneficial in overcoming some of the difficulties associated with the disease in everyday life, such as freezing of gait.  We are proposing to create a device that could help people living with PD overcome instances of freezing of gait.  This device could enable people to continue to walk when they experience a FOG event by incorporating several different compensatory strategies into a single device. This could help individuals with PD continue to walk for longer and subsequently help improve their quality of life.

Expected Outcome:  From our work, we expect to create a prototype device that has the potential to assist individuals dealing with Freezing of Gait. Indicators of the success of this project will be determined by feedback from a local PD support group.  We expect that the users of this device will be able to minimize their incidents of freezing. While the disabilities and discomforts associated with symptoms of PD will continue, we believe this device will enable its user to cope with difficulties from FOG, increase mobility, and improve their quality of life.  

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