Health & Wellbeing

Kinect hacked to allow Parkinson's sufferers to walk the line

Kinect hacked to allow Parkins...
Amin Amini Maghsoud Bigy and Dr Konstantinos Banitsas with the Kinect modified to help Parkinson's patients overcome Freezing of Gait
Amin Amini Maghsoud Bigy and Dr Konstantinos Banitsas with the Kinect modified to help Parkinson's patients overcome Freezing of Gait
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Amin Amini Maghsoud Bigy and Dr Konstantinos Banitsas with the Kinect modified to help Parkinson's patients overcome Freezing of Gait
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Amin Amini Maghsoud Bigy and Dr Konstantinos Banitsas with the Kinect modified to help Parkinson's patients overcome Freezing of Gait

Most will be familiar with the telltale shaking of Parkinson'sdisease, but that isn't the only symptom sufferers must endure. They must also contend with what is known as Freezing of Gait (FOG), where the sufferer's muscles can freezemid-stride, making them feel like their feet are glued to the ground orresulting in them falling over. Researchers at Brunel University London havehacked a Kinect sensor to overcome this.

Research has previously shown that a dot or lines projected ontothe ground in front of Parkinson's sufferers can provide a visual cue that helpsthem "unfreeze" the muscles and devices have been developed to takeadvantage of this. However, these currently take the form of devicesincorporate motion sensing technology that need to be worn.

Now Dr Konstantinos Banitsas and PhDcandidate Amin Amini Maghsoud Bigy have taken a different approach. They have hacked Microsoft'sKinect motion sensor, teaming it with a ceiling-mounted laser to create asystem that can be installed into a patient's home. When the system detects aFOG incident, the ceiling laser projects lines onto the floor to counter the musclefreezing. Additionally, if the person falls, the system will automaticallytrigger a video call for help.

"By mounting the laser guide markeron the ceiling it can provide the visual clues in any direction," says Dr Banitsas. "And it is onlyactivated when a FOG incident occurs instead of having to be wornconstantly."

Dr Banitsas adds that system has passedthe proof of concept stage and he and Bigy are set to begin patient trialsshortly.

Source: Brunel University London

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