Walking is a surprisingly complex task. Just look at two-legged robots for proof. Unfortunately, this means that people with certain brain conditions can struggle with the complex task of walking and experience issues with mobility. This study examined a low-tech intervention that could have some big impact: haptic anchors (pictured on the right). This elegant device provides you brain with extra information to improve mobility. The results of this project were published in a peer-reviewed Journal.
IsabelHedayat, MD Student
Dr. Allison Oates
University of SaskatchewanDr. Oates' Website
The paper published was just a proof of principle that haptic anchors could be a more effective approach to increasing mobility. Since many different neurological disorders present challenges with mobility, the impact of haptic anchors could be quite large. While this simple intervention could help with conditions like Parkinson's Disease, it could be even be used to help regular people when old age presents challenges getting around.
This research helped kick-start a larger series of studies exploring the neuroscience of haptic anchors to better understand exactly how they work and what neurological populations could benefit from them. These kinds of studies are crucial if this intervention will make the leap from the laboratory bench to the bed side. Or perhaps a more accurate description would be for this intervention to restore freedom of movement back to our elders and those with neurological motor challenges.
Amount Funded: $14,000
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People with Parkinson's Disease often struggle to walk properly, since the part of their brain important for initiating movement decays. But why walk when you can dance? Paradoxically, many people with Parkinson's can still dance to music. Check out the video on the right to see this in action. Abulosono is a music-based biofeedback program that uses this important feature of music to help re-train the brain's of people with Parkinson's to walk normally.
Kailie Luan, Undergraduate Student
Dr. Bin Hu
University of CalgaryDr. Hu's Website
Think about how critical walking is to your every day life. From the moment you wake up, you have to walk around your home, around your neighborhood, and your community. For people with Parkinson's, simply walking down the hall can feel as challenging as walking for miles up a steep hill. Successfully getting down the hall can be a draining act, and many people might feel too frustrated to even try sometimes. Ambulosono can help make walking a much more manageable task for people with Parkinson's, which in turn can greatly increase their overall quality of life. While there are medications that can help out with Parkinson's, they are often only work for a while. Having another option, like Ambulosono, can help people reduce their dosage, or save drug-based approaches for later in life when they might be more necessary.
So far, Ambulosono has had some very promising initial findings at multiple different research sites. The next step is to start to scale things up so that this treatment can be brought to a wider range of people struggling from Parkinson's Disease.
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If you have Parkinson's, one of the best ways to learn about this NeurCAM would be to participate in an Ambulosono study.