Biofeedback to Improve Quality of Life in Parkinson’s

Researchers working from the University of Houston’s Department of Health and Human Performance are trying to come up with ways biofeedback technologies can be used to improve the lifestyles of patients suffering from debilitating illnesses, such as Parkinson’s. Their goal has been to improve the balance and stability of Parkinson’s patients and eventually impart a more normalized life using a technology they named Smarter Balance System. The SBS makes use of a biofeedback rehabilitation system on a smartphone. It can aid patients to go through a series of exercises that can improve their balance, with the inclusion of wearable technologies.

In-home Rehabilitation a Possibility

According to the study’s principal investigator Beom-Chan Lee, the holistic approach of the team is towards the improvement of quality of life for these patients, by reducing the number of falls they go through. The team is currently researching on the long term benefits that could be gained from using the SBS system. There will be a belt that can be custom made for each patient and will be lined with actuators that can apply a more personalized touch to the rehabilitation process of patients. The touch based guidance system utilized to run the actuators across multiple types of motions, while recording each movement made by the patient and provided as a real time guidance map through targets and dots in the application.

Reducing the Annual Fall Rate of Parkinson’s Patients

Statistically over 10 mn patients suffer from Parkinson’s today, and there is unfortunately no cure for the disease. The best that healthcare and pharmaceuticals can do is to help the patients try to live a normal life. According to Alberto Fung, the SBS system can become the next best thing for patients than actually having a physiotherapist present. It can give them the freedom to exercise at home without the need for special guidance. Fung is a part of Lee’s research group named SMART, or Sensory-Motor Augmentation and Rehabilitation Technology.