Tech Advance Helping Improve Balance in Parkinson’s Patients

Wearable balance system aims to lessen risk of falling

(UNIV. OF HOUSTON, SCIENCE DAILY) Researchers are helping patients with Parkinson’s disease regain stable balance and confidence in performing daily activities in their own homes. A research team is developing the Smarter Balance System (SBS), a smartphone-based biofeedback rehabilitation system that guides patients through a series of balance exercises using wearable technology.

Smarter Balance System
PHOTO: University of Houston

University of Houston researchers in the Department of Health and Human Performance are helping patients with Parkinson’s disease regain stable balance and confidence in performing daily activities in their own homes.

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A research team is developing the Smarter Balance System (SBS), a smartphone-based biofeedback rehabilitation system that guides patients through a series of balance exercises using wearable technology.

Our overarching goal is to improve their quality of life by improving postural stability, reducing the number of falls and increasing their confidence in daily activities,” said Beom-Chan Lee, assistant professor and principal investigator of the study, which is assessing the impacts of long-term rehabilitative training on patients using the SBS system developed by Lee’s team.

The custom, wearable belt lined with vibrating actuators creates a personalized, in-home rehabilitation program with “touch guidance” based on a patient’s individual range of motion. Each subtle movement is mapped in real-time for “visual guidance” using a series of dots and targets on the smartphone application.

“The smartphone application records and creates a custom motion for their body tilt based on their individual limits of stability. The touch guidance from the vibrating actuators is almost acting as if a physical therapist is guiding them,” said Alberto Fung, a UH graduate student and part of Lee’s Sensori-Motor Augmentation & Rehabilitation Technology (SMART) Research Group.  READ FULL STORY AT SCIENCE DAILY

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