Freezing of gait is a common and disabling symptom in Parkinson's disease. With freezing of gait, patients have the feeling that their feet are suddenly glued to the floor when they attempt to walk. Previous research indicates that cueing strategies -- such as stepping over tiles on the floor or walking at the rhythm of a metronome -- can help to reduce freezing of gait. However, most current cueing strategies are visible for bystanders, and therefore socially unacceptable for patients. We recently developed vibrating socks, a novel cueing device that gives tactile stimuli to reduce freezing of gait in patients with Parkinson's disease without being visible for bystanders.
We hypothesize that vibrating socks, which act as a novel cueing device, will reduce freezing of gait in patients with Parkinson's disease.
We will evaluate the effect of the vibrating socks in 40 patients with Parkinson's disease. We will ask patients to perform a fixed walking trail in a lab environment during two sessions (on and off medication) and under four conditions (tactile stimuli at a fixed frequency, tactile stimuli based on the distribution of the patient's body weight, auditory stimuli, and no stimuli). We will score the number and duration of freezing episodes and compare between all conditions.
Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson's Disease:
By reducing freezing of gait, we expect the impact of the presented technology to be considerable in improving quality of life of patients with Parkinson's disease.
Next Steps for Development:
If the vibrating socks have beneficial effects in the laboratory setting, we will perform a subsequent study to evaluate their effectiveness and feasibility in patients' home environments, with a specific focus on the long-term effects on daily life.