Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Helping Parkinson's disease sufferers live a better life

18.10.2006
Parkinson's disease affects an estimated one in every 500 people in Europe – it is the second most common disease after Alzheimer's. With so many afflicted, one research team is trying to help people with Parkinson’s living at home to overcome the social exclusion its symptoms can cause.

A degenerative disease of later life with widely varying symptoms, Parkinson's disease (PD) can result in poor mobility or paralysis, speech disorders and depression, causing people to drop out of life's flow. It is an idiopathic disease, and researchers suspect both genetic causes and environmental pollution as contributory factors.

Partners in the ParkService initiative co-funded by the European Commission’s eTEN programme are testing a set of services that could help sufferers better manage the disease symptoms. This eInclusion project, which began in August 2004 and ends 31 March 2007, involves research institutes in four countries, Italy, Germany, the UK and Greece, in testing three prototype services.

A fascinating online video shows a stooped man with Parkinson's disease shuffling with difficulty across an apartment. After briefly observing a line of rectangles of white paper lined up on the floor before him, he can suddenly stand up straight and walk briskly over the paper trail. But at the end of the paper trail, the man stoops again and resumes shuffling.

The video demonstrates how visual markers known as ‘cues’, like these simple pieces of paper, can help people with Parkinson's disease do things that their damaged neuromotor libraries have made much more difficult, says Reynold Greenlaw at UK-based Oxford Computer Consultants Ltd., coordinator of the eTEN co-funded ParkService project.

ParkService is "testing the European market for a device that lets a person with Parkinson's see the virtual equivalent of those pieces of paper, wherever he walks," says Greenlaw. That device, called INDIGO, is the core of ParkService's prototype set of telematic tools, which aim to help PD patients to live and communicate with both clinicians and others.

INDIGO is a pair of virtual-reality eyeglasses equipped with electronics and a rechargeable battery, and a belt-or pocket worn mini-computer that can be configured remotely. "A monitor in the glasses puts moving stripes in the person's peripheral vision, providing that helpful visual cue," says Greenlaw.

Originally named ParkWalker, the INDIGO eyeglasses won the European Commission’s Assistive Technology Award in November 2004. They were originally developed under an earlier IST-sponsored project, PARREHA, which lead to the setting up of a joint company, ParkAid, which is the motor of the ParkService consortium.

ParkLine, another mature prototype, will give patients a secure, easy-to-use way to use their televisions to communicate with their physicians and other disease sufferers. They can type in symptom diaries using a television remote control or send video from a webcam. ParkLine is designed to keep bandwidth low in order to keep costs down.

Greenlaw says that, "We received positive feedback on ParkLine following a group presentation at the Schneckenhaus, a large group home in Germany for people with Parkinson's. Now we're working on interface customisations that people have asked for, like language and bigger buttons on the remote control."

The browser-based ParkClinic tool allows doctors to receive ParkLine messages and images from their patients. "This is the system's least challenging part. Doctors have tried it at the Institute of Neurology, but not formally," says Greenlaw.

The INDIGO system costs 2,000 euros. ParkService support will be paid for in a variety of ways. "In Germany private-health insurance and patient organisations may pay for it. In the UK we will try to get backing from the National Health Service, and in Italy, patient organisations will pay." explains Greenlaw.

ParkService is a market validation project, and rollout is set for March 2007. "We'll start in Germany, because they have a unified structure for dealing with people with Parkinson's, as well as a very developed internet infrastructure and Europe's largest population," says Greenlaw.

"For now, our objective is to use feedback from the ParkService pilots to fine-tune the tools. Then, our next step is to get them into people's homes and doctors' offices in larger numbers," says Greenlaw.

Source: Based on information from PARKSERVICE

Jernett Karensen | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/
http://www.parkservice.biz/
http://www.parkaid.net/default.asp

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>