Robotic Device can assist in Increasing Stability among Parkinson’s Patients
In study published on December 20, 2017, researchers from Columbia University Medical Center reported that Tethered Pelvic Assist Device (TPAD) can assist Parkinson’s patients with perturbations in balancing while waking.
Fall-related injuries caused due to imbalance are a major threat for people with Parkinson’s. Improving balance in patients with Parkinson’s would provide a major health advantage. Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering and of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia Engineering along with Dario Martelli, a post-doctoral researcher have been working on this issue with Movement Disorders.
Rehabilitation robotics team used a robotic system named Tethered Pelvic Assist Device (TPAD), to perform the study. The TPAD is a wearable and lightweight cable-driven robot that can be programmed to provide forces on the pelvis in a desired direction as an individual walks on treadmill. Result of the study showed that both the Parkinson’s and the healthy subjects controlled their reactive strategies in the same way. In fact, both groups improved their unperturbed walking after a single training session with repeated waist pull perturbations.
“Most falls in PD are reported during walking, and gait disorders are one of the hallmarks of PD, but previous studies on PD subjects have focused on responses to balance perturbations only while standing,” said Agrawal. Nine PD patients and nine age-matched control subjects participated in the study. Participants were attached to the TPAD’s cables and were given waist-pull diagonal perturbations for brief periods to assess the response. Each group was trained with 72 randomly applied pelvic force perturbations that varied in direction, intensity, and the specific foot in contact with the ground.
According to Rehabilitation Robots Market report published by Coherent Market Insights, rehabilitation robots assist to repair physical, sensory, and mental disabilities of patients caused by injury or illness. It is prescribed for patients suffering from neurological disorders. Patients were observed to walk freely without the cables after training period. Post-sessions were conducted to assess the effects of training on balance and stability. Parkinson’s patients were observed to have reduced stability in the forward direction before and after training as compared to the healthy subjects.
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