First novel discovery of a physical predictor of freezing in Parkinson's disease

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MediGait reports a study finding a simple test predicting development of freezing within two years for people with PD. The implications of this discovery could allow, for the first time, referral of at risk patients to preventive treatment of the most disabling and life threatening symptom of Parkinson's disease.

A two year follow up study, performed at Georgia Regents University and published in the Feb. 2015 edition of the peer-reviewed neurology journal, ANS, finds a physical predictor of freezing for people with Parkinson's disease.

Freezing of gait develops in 30–60% of individuals in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease. A freezing of gait episode causes patients to remain in place despite making an effort to walk. Patients feel that their feet are glued to the ground. Freezing can significantly increase the risk of falling. For reasons that are still unclear, individuals with PD who experience freezing episodes improve their walking in the presence of visual cues.

In a previous study, participants who had not yet developed freezing walked with and without a visual cues device, the GaitAid by MediGait. Some participants initiated the first step faster while using the GaitAid while others did not. The researchers hypothesized that those patients whose first step duration shortened with the GaitAid would be the ones to develop freezing of gait in the future.

The current study ( , funded by the National Parkinson's Foundation, followed up two years later and found that indeed the patients' whose first step duration responded to the GaitAid were 13 fold more likely to develop freezing within two years. According to Dr. Chong, lead investigator in this study, "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first novel discovery of a physical predictor of freezing in PD. The time to complete the first step is a simple test to administer in the clinic or at home and may therefore be easily incorporated into a fall prevention training program for PD before the inception of freezing."

The GaitAid from MediGait is an easy to use at-home or clinic virtual reality device. It includes a small unit that is clipped onto the patient’s pants and a pair of special glasses with headphones, which provide audio and visual cues that feedback the patient’s movements. Simply walking with the device for 20 minutes a day was shown to improve walking and reduce freezing for people with Parkinson’s disease.

The present study raises a question for a future study - can development of freezing be prevented or delayed by training with the GaitAid device for at risk patients, well before freezing presents itself.

The GaitAid is available for a 30-day at-home trial period.

More information is available online:

Email: support(at)medigait(dot)com

About MediGait – MediGait LTD ( headquartered in Haifa, Israel was founded by Yoram Baram, a Professor of Computer Science and incumbent of the Roy Matas / Winnipeg Chair in Biomedical Engineering at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. MediGait creates breakthrough movement feedback devices to improve quality of life for movement disorder patients.

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Amir Baram
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