We are undoing bad habits Steve developed to compensate for his lack of balance. Lately, this week he is walking without any aids at all. He's no longer afraid to walk; taking longer steps, and has better equilibrium.
Haifa, Israel (PRWEB) March 18, 2009
A few months ago, New York resident Steve Friedman was for all intents and purposes tied to his chair the entire day because of the double-whammy of Parkinson's disease and Multiple Sclerosis. One of the only reasons Steve ever left his chair in the living room was to use the restroom. And he was forced to use a walker to keep his balance while making even that short trip.
Now, because of a virtual reality device developed by an Israeli scientist called the GaitAid Virtual Walker, he's able to get around his apartment and even outside without the aid of his walker or any other support devices.
Steve's wife Margarita says, "We are undoing bad habits Steve developed to compensate for his lack of balance. Lately, this week he is walking without any aids at all. He's no longer afraid to walk; taking longer steps, and has better equilibrium."
Steve says when he walks while wearing the device, he gains confidence immediately, his stride gets longer, and he falls into a natural walking rhythm. He says it actually stimulates a strong desire in his mind to walk better.
While working on a project for NASA to improve the ability of pilots to navigate low-flying helicopters around tall objects, Professor Baram developed the concepts leading to the breakthrough device. Originally designed with Parkinson's disease (PD) patients in mind, it turns out to be an effective option for MS patients and other movement disorder patients as well. Several published peer-reviewed clinical studies are located on the Medigait website making easy access for further study.
The GaitAid device stimulates a neuroplastic response in the brain of the user. In simple terms, this means the patient's brain responds to the stimulus by creating new healthy brain circuits bypassing disease-damaged areas in the process. Steve's wife Margarita claims he started walking better within the first 10 minutes of his first session walking while wearing the device.
Steve says he didn't notice an improvement for a few sessions. By then, his wife claims he was walking almost normally. Although the device was not designed with drop foot in mind, and drop foot is not something Medigait claims the Virtual Walker helps in any way, Steve and his wife both say his drop foot, a symptom of his MS, isn't even noticeable anymore. Margarita thinks this is a side effect of the neuroplastic brain response. Steve is just happy he can get up and move around.
Steve said, "The device even helps with my drop foot. I'm synchronizing my walking with the tiles. I can do it now without wearing the device."
The visual images generated by the Virtual Walker have proven to be a great benefit to Steve in overcoming his fear of walking and falling. He suffers from panic attacks while walking, which contributed to his being confined to his chair in his living room. Margarita says now if Steve starts to panic while walking, he's able to calm himself by visualizing the tile images in his minds eye and making clicking noises with his tongue similar to the way the device works. He then starts walking again. Steve and Margarita say this has greatly enhanced the quality of both their lives.
Margarita says she actually catches him wandering around in the apartment now. She says he hasn't done that in years.
Not only that, he's able to go downstairs to get the mail down in the front of the building. He walks the corridors of the building, and during good weather, goes for a walk on the waterfront across from the building. They both greatly appreciate that Steve can now get back outside because being cooped up inside all the time is very difficult for both of them.
Recording of this interview available at: http://www.medigait.com/steveinterview.html
For more information on the GaitAid Virtual Walker device:
Contact Audrey Holmes
Email: support (at) medigait (dot) com
Phone: 1-888-777-9906 (U.S)
Note to Editors: Contact Information for Steve and Margarita Friedman available on request
About MediGait LLC
MediGait was founded by Yoram Baram, PhD, a Professor of Computer Science and incumbent of the Roy Matas / Winnipeg Chair in Biomedical Engineering at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. The idea for this project was sparked 12 years ago while Professor Baram was designing a mechanism for NASA to navigate low-flying helicopters around obstacles.