NUI Galway has been creating a package of discreet, wearable electronics to help handle the debilitating motor manifestation of Parkinson’s disease, referred to as Freezing of Gait.
The very first generation of the system resulted from NUI Galway’s involvement in the4.7 million European FP7 undertaking, REMPARK, that had 11 partners across Europe for example NUI Galway. As part of this undertaking, the University has developed a novel wearable electronic device, called ‘cueStim’, made to prevent or alleviate recoil of Gait, which is often explained by people with Parkinson’s, as a sense like their feet are stuck or glued to the ground preventing them from going forward.
Dr Leo Quinlan, lecturer in Physiology in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, along with the project’s Co-Principal Investigator, stated: “The seriousness of Freezing of Gait is dependent upon the stage of the disorder and it may have a very serious effect on quality of life, also affecting individuals with Parkinson’s ability to walk for lengthy intervals and is a frequent cause of falls in Parkinson’s disease.”
The Human Movement Laboratory in the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices in NUI Galway is now working to further enhance the technologies, especially in the area of usability and human factors through the job ‘EScapeFOG’. To accomplish this aim, NUI Galway is partnering with Parkinson’s support teams to examine and evaluate the efficacy and human aspects of the machine.
Screen-shots of the cueStim smartphone Program used to configure the operation of the wearable device that was electronic. Photo: NUI Galway
Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, Professor of Electronic Engineering at the School of Engineering and Informatics in NUI Galway, and job Co-Principal Investigator commented: “We are using what is referred to as a User Centred Design methodology, to ensure that the developed technologies meets the needs of their intended users. This entails testing all facets of the machine using the Parkinson’s community and looking for their opinions on its usability during the design procedure.”
The Human Movement Laboratory in NUI Galway is currently engaged in a really effective collaboration with the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group on improving the plan of their cueStim program, to effectively meet the needs of individuals with Parkinson’s using this technology. A current usability and human factors workshop held in the University has been attended by 16 members of the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group.
T.J. Waters, PRO for the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group, stated: “The opportunity to view at first hand that the research being undertaken to improve the quality of life for individuals with Parkinson’s has been an experience not to be overlooked. Clare Parkinson’s Support Group members are delighted to have an active part in this exciting project, which will be of advantage ultimately to individuals with Parkinson’s throughout the world.”
Any individual wanting to take part in future studies regarding this device may contact Dean Sweeney, the machine’s lead developer in: and 089-2576449.
The research was part-funded by the European Commission under Science Foundation Ireland and the FP7 programme.