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

August 28, 2012
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

Bicycling 'overloads' movement networks with Parkinson's

September 23, 2017
(HealthDay)—Bicycling suppresses abnormal beta synchrony in the Parkinsonian basal ganglia, according to a study published online Sept. 11 in the Annals of Neurology.

Researchers find new path to promising Parkinson's treatment

September 19, 2017
Three researchers at The University of Alabama are part of work that is leading to a new direction for drug discovery in the quest to treat Parkinson's disease.

Tug of war between Parkinson's protein and growth factor

September 18, 2017
Alpha-synuclein, a sticky and sometimes toxic protein involved in Parkinson's disease (PD), blocks signals from an important brain growth factor, Emory researchers have discovered.

Medical history can point to earlier Parkinson's disease diagnosis

September 15, 2017
Before symptoms become pronounced, there is no reliable way to identify who is on track to develop Parkinson's disease, a debilitating movement disorder characterized by tremors, slowness of movement, stiffness, and difficulty ...

Brain rewiring in Parkinson's disease may contribute to abnormal movement

September 14, 2017
The brain's own mechanisms for dealing with the loss of dopamine neurons in Parkinson's disease may be a source of the disorder's abnormal movement, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in Neuron.

Treating with antioxidants early in Parkinson's disease process may halt degeneration and improve neuronal function

September 7, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have identified a toxic cascade that leads to neuronal degeneration in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and figured out how to interrupt it, reports a study to be published September ...

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.