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Open Access Real-Time Feedback Derived from Wearable Sensors to Improve Gait in Parkinson's Disease

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According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Parkinson's disease (PD) affects one million Americans, with 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Symptoms associated with PD, such as asymmetric gait and shortened step length, can lead to episodes of freezing of gait (FOG) and increased susceptibility to falls. There is a need for rehabilitation techniques, particularly those that can be readily utilized on a daily basis, to prevent or slow the progression of these symptoms. StepPlus is an innovative wearable rehabilitation device designed to provide auditory and haptic feedback through a smartphone application. The current version of the device measures and tracks stride length in real time using an inertial measurement unit that includes a three-dimensional accelerometer and gyroscope. Work is in progress to provide real-time feedback to encourage users to alter their gait patterns. The design of the system will allow delivery of progress reports to the user's neurologist and/or physical therapists. Experiments with the body-worn device on seven adult subjects without PD demonstrated the ability to measure stride length with an average error of less than 10% across a range of four self-selected gait speeds on all subjects. By monitoring an individual's stride length over time, StepPlus can gather longitudinal data that could be used to support clinical decisions. Future work will implement the real-time feedback feature and investigate the ability of StepPlus to decrease the frequency of FOG episodes for the PD population.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2018

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  • Technology and Innovation, edited and published by the National Academy of Inventors, is a forum for presenting information encompassing the entire field of applied sciences, with a focus on transformative technology and academic innovation. Regular features of T&I include commentaries contributed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and in-depth profiles of Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors in every issue.

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