Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists use fractals to help Parkinson’s sufferers

02.02.2004


A new portable system for analyzing the walking patterns of people with Parkinson’s disease has been developed by researchers in the US and Japan. The system, described in the Institute of Physics publication Journal of Neural Engineering, will help doctors monitor the progress of the disease in patients and so tailor their therapy and drug regime more accurately than previously possible.



Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system. Its symptoms include: uncontrollable trembling, difficulty walking, and postural problems that often lead to falls. These symptoms are usually controlled with dopamine agonist drugs. However, these can have a number of side-effects, such as jerking movements. It is also known that the body builds up a tolerance to the drug.

Understanding the nature and severity of symptoms for individual patients, which is reflected in their walking pattern, could help doctors improve a patient’s quality of life, by guiding their treatment more effectively, and so reduce side-effects.


Researchers have previously tried to quantify the problems suffered by Parkinson’s patients by studying their gait. Now, Masaki Sekine, Metin Akay, and Toshiyo Tamura, of the Department of Gerontechnology, National Institute for Longevity Sciences, in Aichi, Japan and Thayer School of Engineering, New Hampshire USA, working with their colleagues at the Fujimoto Hayasuzu Hospital, in Miy azaki, Japan, have devised a portable system based on a sensor placed on the patient’s body that measures movements in three dimensions. The readings from this sensor, known as a tri-axial accelerometer, are fed to a computer, together with measurements of the patients walking speed, and analysed using a fractal system.

Fractals are usually associated with irregular geometric objects that look the same no matter what scale they are viewed at: clouds, branching trees, rugged coastlines, rocky mountains, are all examples of fractals. The idea of a fractal can also be applied to irregular motion. For instance, a healthy heartbeat is now known not be so regular as we might think and follows a fractal pattern of movement instead. Scientists have suggested that fractals might also be used to model the irregular walking pattern of people with Parkinson’s disease.

The researchers used the fractal analysis to break down the body motion of healthy elderly subjects and patients with Parkinson’s disease into simpler component parts. The aim being to reveal the differences in irregularity and complexity of the way individuals in each group walk. The computer analysis of the data revealed the complexity, as determined by a fractal measure, of the walking patterns of each group. The fractal measure falls between 1 and 2, and the higher the fractal measure (close to 2) the more complex the body motion, or the lower the fractal measure (close to 1) the less complex the body motion.

The authors say that the fractal measure for Parkinson’s disease patients is about 1.48, or higher than that of healthy elderly subjects, whereas the healthy elderly subjects have a fractal measure nearer 1.3.

This confirms the fractal nature of the gait in Parkinson’s patients, says the team, and provides them with a quantitative means to measure the severity of walking symptoms.

The Journal of Neural Engineering was launched by the Institute of Physics this week and can be viewed online at: http://jne.iop.org.

David Reid | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://jne.iop.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism
19.01.2018 | Weill Cornell Medicine

nachricht Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system
17.01.2018 | Duke University Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>