A wearable, soft, robotic device could help patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) walk without experiencing freezing of gait (FoG), early research suggested.
The robotic apparel, worn around the hips and thighs, gently pushes the hips as the leg swings, facilitating a longer stride and preventing FoG, a common disorder in PD that affects nearly all patients over the disease course.
The small, proof-of-concept study included one person with PD. But investigators noted the reduction in freezing and falls and improvement in walking distance and speed was dramatic. Incidence of FoG decreased from 63% to just 6% when the patient wore the robotic garment outdoors. Wearing the device indoors eliminated freezing altogether… Continue reading.
Researchers in academic and industry labs have previously developed robotic devices for rehabilitation and other areas of life that can either assist walking or running, but no untethered portable device could efficiently do both. Assisting walking and running with a single device is challenging because of the fundamentally different biomechanics of the two gaits. However, both gaits have in common an extension of the hip joint, which starts around the time when the foot comes in contact with the ground and requires considerable energy for propelling the body forward.
As reported today in Science, a team of researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the University of Nebraska Omaha now has developed a portable exosuit that assists with gait-specific hip extension during both walking and running. Their lightweight exosuit is made of textile components worn at the waist and thighs, and a mobile actuation system attached to the lower back which is controlled by an algorithm that can robustly detect the transition from walking to running and vice versa… Continue reading.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the induction of Conor Walsh, Ph.D., John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, to its College of Fellows.
Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to a medical and biological engineer. The College of Fellows is comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers. College membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering and medicine research, practice, or education” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of medical and biological engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to bioengineering education.”
Dr. Walsh was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows for “pioneering contributions to field of biomechanics and soft robotics, and their application to rehabilitation medicine and gait control.”