Tokyo Tech researchers develop the WalkMate System for improving the quality of life of Parkinson's disease patients

August 28, 2012, Tokyo Institute of Technology
Tokyo Tech researchers develop the WalkMate System for improving the quality of life of Parkinson’s disease patients
Schematic illustration and components of the WalkMate system. Copyright: 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 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 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 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 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 that have a fixed rhythm. Further studies in collaboration with researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and 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 that may improve the mobility, stability, and quality of life of Parkinson's disease patients," say the inventors.

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

Explore further: Study finds benefit of low-intensity exercise for walking in Parkinson's patients

More information: Miyake Y (2009) Interpersonal Synchronization of Body Motion and the Walk-MateWalking Support Robot IEEE Transactions on robotics 25(3): 638-644. Doi: 10.1109/TRO.2009.2020350
Hove MJ, Suzuki K, Uchitomi H, Orimo S, Miyake Y (2012) Interactive Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation Reinstates Natural 1/f Timing in Gait of Parkinson's Patients. PLoS ONE 7(3): e32600. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032600

Related Stories

Study finds benefit of low-intensity exercise for walking in Parkinson's patients

April 12, 2011
Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Baltimore VA Medical Center found that Parkinson's patients who walked on a treadmill at a comfortable speed for a longer duration (low-intensity exercise) ...

Recommended for you

A new therapeutic avenue for Parkinson's disease

January 23, 2018
Systemic clearing of senescent astrocytes prevents Parkinson's neuropathology and associated symptoms in a mouse model of sporadic disease, the type implicated in 95% of human cases. Publishing in Cell Reports, researchers ...

Investigators eye new target for treating movement disorders

January 19, 2018
Blocking a nerve-cell receptor in part of the brain that coordinates movement could improve the treatment of Parkinson's disease, dyskinesia and other movement disorders, researchers at Vanderbilt University have reported.

Parkinson's disease 'jerking' side effect detected by algorithm

January 8, 2018
A mathematical algorithm that can reliably detect dyskinesia, the side effect from Parkinson's treatment that causes involuntary jerking movements and muscle spasms, could hold the key to improving treatment and for patients ...

New brainstem changes identified in Parkinson's disease

January 4, 2018
A pioneering study has found that patients with Parkinson's disease have more errors in the mitochondrial DNA within the brainstem, leading to increased cell death in that area.

Caffeine level in blood may help diagnose people with Parkinson's disease

January 3, 2018
Testing the level of caffeine in the blood may provide a simple way to aid the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the January 3, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

Researchers shed light on why exercise slows progression of Parkinson's disease

December 22, 2017
While vigorous exercise on a treadmill has been shown to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease in patients, the molecular reasons behind it have remained a mystery.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.