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Funded Studies

Powered Clothing and Wearable Robotics for Everyday Gait Support

Study Rationale: We’ve spent several years exploring the potential of supporting human movement with wearable robotics and we believe our work has tremendous potential for individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD). With some early prototypes, we have helped a small number of people with PD walk more confidently and take longer, crisper steps. But for someone to want to wear such a device every day, it also needs to be light, comfortable, stylish and easy to use. Our goal is to build a device that is equal parts helpful in assisting gait and delightful to wear.

Hypothesis: We hypothesize that we can increase stride length and walking speed for people with PD using a lightweight, powered hip device that looks and feels more like a pair of pants than the bulky exoskeletons common today. We further hypothesize that improving gait regularity might also reduce gait freezing.

Study Design: We will work with about a dozen people with PD to help us design and tune our devices to be maximally helpful and comfortable - both in terms of hardware and software. We will then evaluate our impact by measuring whether our devices help these volunteers to walk further, faster and more confidently. We will also explore a series of other questions, including whether our devices can improve balance and reduce falls, but these are more experimental in nature!

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s disease: Changes in movement are one of the primary challenges associated with PD. We hope that a device like ours will help people with PD stay physically active and connected to the world around them with minimal side effects - adapting and assisting their changing gait challenges over time.

Next Steps for Development: If successful, our next step will be to finish “productizing” our devices to be reliable and robust enough to be given to users for longer-term unsupervised testing. We will then do a larger, randomized controlled trial with a PD population, to evaluate whether the devices meaningfully improve quality of life.


  • Anna Roumiantseva, MBA

    San Francisco, CA United States

  • Patrick Franks, PhD

    San Francisco, CA United States

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