The development of a home-based technology to improve gait in people with Parkinson's disease: a feasibility study

Galit Yogev-Seligmann*, Naomi Josman, Noemi Bitterman, Sara Rosenblum, Sitar Naaman, Yafit Gilboa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: People with Parkinson’s disease (PwP) may experience gait impairment and freezing of gait (FOG), a major cause of falls. External cueing, including visual (e.g., spaced lines on the floor) and auditory (e.g., rhythmic metronome beats) stimuli, are considered effective in alleviating mobility deficits and FOG. Currently, there is a need for a technology that delivers automatic, individually adjusted cues in the homes of PwP. The aims of this feasibility study were to describe the first step toward the development of a home-based technology that delivers external cues, test its effect on gait, and assess user experience. Methods: Iterative system development was performed by our multidisciplinary team. The system was designed to deliver visual and auditory cues: light stripes projected on the floor and metronome beats, separately. Initial testing was performed using the feedback of five healthy elderly individuals on the cues’ clarity (clear visibility of the light stripes and the sound of metronome beats) and discomfort experienced. A pilot study was subsequently conducted in the homes of 15 PwP with daily FOG. We measured participants' walking under three conditions: baseline (with no cues), walking with light stripes, and walking to metronome beats. Outcome measures included step length and step time. User experience was also captured in semi-structured interviews. Results: Repeated-measures ANOVA of gait assessment in PwP revealed that light stripes significantly improved step length (p = 0.009) and step time (p = 0.019) of PwP. No significant changes were measured in the metronome condition. PwP reported that both cueing modalities improved their gait, confidence, and stability. Most PwP did not report any discomfort in either modality and expressed a desire to have such a technology in their homes. The metronome was preferred by the majority of participants. Conclusions: This feasibility study demonstrated the usability and potential effect of a novel cueing technology on gait, and represents an important first step toward the development of a technology aimed to prevent FOG by delivering individually adjusted cues automatically. A further full-scale study is needed. Trial registration This study was registered in ClinicalTrials.gov at 1/2/2022 NCT05211687.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2
JournalBioMedical Engineering Online
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 19 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • External cues
  • Freezing of gait
  • Light stripes
  • Metronome
  • Mobility
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Physiotherapy
  • Smart home
  • Technology

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