Technology Solutions for Parkinson’s Patients
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological movement disorder that affects thousands of Americans each year. But it’s not a diagnosis without hope. Technology and innovation are helping patients live a better quality of life while we all wait for a cure.
Medication [name i has long been the standard for treating many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Then, within the last decade??? Neurologists developed Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) a form of technology that uses ultrasound to stimulate the part of the brain affected by the disease. But how much medication is right for each patient at any given time? And can DBS happen someplace besides a surgical suite?
Two new technologies are helping answer these questions.
St. Jude Medical InfinityTM DBS system, developed by Abbott Laboratories, is a system of implanted electrodes that are controlled by a mobile application–in other words, an iPhone app. It allows users to adjust the stimulation provided by DBS in something closer to real time.
Secondly, a sensor-based technology developed in part by engineers at Florida Atlantic University uses an algorithm to gauge how patients are responding to medication throughout the day. While this technology is still in development, it promises to make medication more customized for each patient, rather than one dose fits all.
While we await a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, several companies have developed technologies that are helping patients “hack” the symptoms.
Liftware has created eating utensils that self-correct so that hand tremors don’t disrupt the eating experience quite as much.
Several companies, including Ustep and Walk With Path, have developed laser technologies that project a laser cue on the floor. This helps many patients avoid the freezing that can take place while walking.
As for the hunching posture that plagues many Parkinson’s patients, Abililife has developed Calibrace, a low-tech way to reduce back strain by lifting one’s shoulders up and back.
The Writing Is On The Wall
In addition to these innovations, others are working to address the challenges PD poses on fine motor skills like handwriting. Gyrogear is currently developing a wearable “glove” that could make handwriting easier. If you want to see the possibilities, check out Project Emma from Microsoft.
While a cure for PD may still be years off, adaptive technology is helping our loved ones live better now.