Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Parkinson's help from AR

It will work better with Glasses.

HealthCare Analytics

The phenomenon known as “freezing” occurs for many Parkinson’s patients. It’s when their limbs temporarily won’t do what their brain is telling them to, causing them to “freeze” during activities like walking. Sometimes, a simple visual cue can help spur their motion.

That’s where augmented reality (AR) comes in. The students developed a smartphone app that allows a user to place one of those cues, like a circle or block (see image above), to target where on the ground their next step should land . According to a brief from Rice, the cue is often enough to spur patients back into their gait.

“This is for patients who, in their day-to-day lives, experience freezing episodes,” one team member, Gaby Perez, said. The app can also use tactile and audio cues, which Perez said other devices meant to assist with the problem typically don’t incorporate.

A smartphone app is also cheaper and more innocuous than those other solutions, like laser-guiding canes. One of Perez’s teammates, Dan Burke, said that the project “has the potential to work more effectively and at a fraction of the cost.” The app—which is more proof-of-concept than eventual product—was designed for iPhones, but the team said it should be adaptable to Android devices as well.

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