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Content Hub: All Things Movement Disorders

Smartphone App to Help Parkinson’s Disease Patients Overcome Freezing of Gait

A team of Rice University students uses augmented reality to create a walking aid for Parkinson’s disease patients with freezing of gait. The team developed a smartphone app that offers a selection of cues — visual, such as a ring on the screen, sound and vibration — to aid in walking. Looking through the smartphone at the ground and stepping into the ring helps overcome freezing. Although a laser cane remains the golden standard for freezing of gait, it is not an option for everyone. The app may become an alternative for patients with freezing of gait unable or unwilling to use a laser cane. Users of the app report their experience as far superior to that with a laser cane. Now that the initial prototype has been completed and the first round of testing is underway, the research team is designing special smartphone holders to further improve the usability of the app.