Walker Monitor to Inhibit Freezing of Gait by Individuals with Parkinson's Diseas

Award Information
Agency:
Department of Health and Human Services
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$100,000.00
Award Year:
2010
Program:
STTR
Phase:
Phase I
Contract:
1R41AG035406-01
Award Id:
n/a
Agency Tracking Number:
R41AG035406
Solicitation Year:
2010
Solicitation Topic Code:
NIA
Solicitation Number:
PA09-081
Small Business Information
88 HIGH COUNTRY RD, WEAVERVILLE, NC, 28787-
Hubzone Owned:
N
Minority Owned:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
155118362
Principal Investigator:
PHILIP SCHAEFER
(828) 645-1026
phil@vortant.com
Business Contact:
PHIL SCHAEFER
(828) 645-1026
phil@vortant.com
Research Institution:
University Of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Office Of Sponsored Research
CHAPEL HILL, NC, 27599-
() -
Nonprofit college or university
Abstract
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Freezing of Gait (FOG) effects the majority of the approximately one million individuals who have Parkinson's disease nationwide and causes a cessation of movement that patients describe as feeling as if their feet areglued to the ground . FOG most often occurs in the mature stages of Parkinson's disease and results in a loss of balance and severe falls. These falls often cause serious injury or even death in elderly individuals. The proposed project solution is to improve walking safety for this vulnerable patient population by ensuring appropriate use of a walker during gait, and treating freezing episodes that can occur when an individual with Parkinson's disease uses a rolling walker. Individuals who rely on a rolling walker for balance and support and do not use the device appropriately are at an increased risk for falls. When the individual gets into a forward-leaning posture from the beginning stages of a freeze and is unable to right their self, the walker canbe pushed farther away from the body, resulting in a fall. The proposed device for Phase I research will accurately and effectively detect a freeze and break its full onset, via the use of infrared distance sensors that monitor body position, and sensory feedback provided to the user to correct their posture. We will also perform trials with potential users to determine device effectiveness in preventing FOG episodes and thus preventing debilitating falls. The expected result is a device able to accuratelydetect a freezing episode (ignoring false positives), and then provide sensory cues that break the full onset of the freeze. Several well-qualified individuals make up the research team, including PI Shawn George, biomedical engineer and inventor of the proof-of-concept device; Dr. Richard Goldberg, an expert in the development of assistive technology and medical instrumentation; physical therapist Linda Cates, who has 20 years of experience as physical therapist and is a Board Certified Neurlogical Clinical Specialist through the American Physical Therapy Association; and Kevin Caves, ME, ATP, RET, who has 20+ years experience in the design, development, prescription, provision and training of assistive technology for people with a variety of disabilities.PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The loss of independent mobility is a key indicator in general de-conditioning leading to other functional declines. Loss of mobility has been shown to be predictive of increased mortality in older adults. The proposed device will help individuals with disability to maintain mobility and decrease mortality.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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