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Japanese researchers develop WalkMate System for improving quality of life of Parkinson's patients

Date:
August 27, 2012
Source:
Tokyo Institute of Technology
Summary:
Researchers in Japan have developed an innovative, non-invasive therapeutic intervention that may improve the mobility, stability, and quality of life of Parkinson's disease patients.

Schematic illustration and components of the WalkMate system.
Credit: Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tokyo Tech's Yoshihiro Miyake and colleagues have developed an innovative, non-invasive therapeutic intervention that may improve the mobility, stability, and quality of life of Parkinson's disease patients.

The technology is also described in the August issue of Tokyo Institute of Technology Bulletin: http://www.titech.ac.jp/bulletin/index.html

The unintentional synchronizing of people's gait as they walk together is a familiar phenomenon. Understanding the mechanisms behind this synchronization could help people with a disturbed gait, such as patients suffering from Parkinson's disease. Research by Yoshihiro Miyake at the Department of Computational Intelligence and Systems Science at Tokyo Institute of Technology has helped to demystify the process and led to a new walking support device -- 'Walk Mate'.

Yoshihiro Miyake investigated coupled walking processes between a walking robot and a walking person. The study included people with a healthy gait and people suffering from Parkinson's disease or hemiplegia due to brain infraction. He used the timing of the walking person as a sensory input for the robot and the sound of a walking rhythm as the robot's output. An algorithm based on travelling wave dynamics controlled the timing difference between the Walk Mate's input and output.

The study revealed how people adjust their pace in response to the robot's audible output. Patients' stride patterns were healthier using 'Walk Mate' and they reported a greater stability and "sense of togetherness" compared with more traditional walking aids that have a fixed rhythm. Further studies in collaboration with researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Department of Neurology at Kanto Central Hospital have underlined the great potential of the device.

"Our approach offers a flexible, portable, low-cost, non-invasive therapeutic intervention that may improve the mobility, stability, and quality of life of Parkinson's disease patients," say the inventors.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tokyo Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Y. Miyake. Interpersonal Synchronization of Body Motion and the Walk-Mate Walking Support Robot. IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 2009; 25 (3): 638 DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2009.2020350
  2. Michael J. Hove, Kazuki Suzuki, Hirotaka Uchitomi, Satoshi Orimo, Yoshihiro Miyake. Interactive Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation Reinstates Natural 1/f Timing in Gait of Parkinson's Patients. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (3): e32600 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032600

Cite This Page:

Tokyo Institute of Technology. "Japanese researchers develop WalkMate System for improving quality of life of Parkinson's patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827093049.htm>.
Tokyo Institute of Technology. (2012, August 27). Japanese researchers develop WalkMate System for improving quality of life of Parkinson's patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827093049.htm
Tokyo Institute of Technology. "Japanese researchers develop WalkMate System for improving quality of life of Parkinson's patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827093049.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

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