Background: People with Parkinson’s disease (PwP) may experience gait impairment and freezing of gait (FOG), a major cause of falls. External cueing, including visual (e.g., spaced lines on the floor) and auditory (e.g., rhythmic metronome beats) stimuli, are considered effective in alleviating mobility deficits and FOG. Currently, there is a need for a technology that delivers automatic, individually adjusted cues in the homes of PwP. The aims of this feasibility study were to describe the first step toward the development of a home-based technology that delivers external cues, test its effect on gait, and assess user experience. Methods: Iterative system development was performed by our multidisciplinary team. The system was designed to deliver visual and auditory cues: light stripes projected on the floor and metronome beats, separately. Initial testing was performed using the feedback of five healthy elderly individuals on the cues’ clarity (clear visibility of the light stripes and the sound of metronome beats) and discomfort experienced. A pilot study was subsequently conducted in the homes of 15 PwP with daily FOG. We measured participants' walking under three conditions: baseline (with no cues), walking with light stripes, and walking to metronome beats. Outcome measures included step length and step time. User experience was also captured in semi-structured interviews. Results: Repeated-measures ANOVA of gait assessment in PwP revealed that light stripes significantly improved step length (p = 0.009) and step time (p = 0.019) of PwP. No significant changes were measured in the metronome condition. PwP reported that both cueing modalities improved their gait, confidence, and stability. Most PwP did not report any discomfort in either modality and expressed a desire to have such a technology in their homes. The metronome was preferred by the majority of participants. Conclusions: This feasibility study demonstrated the usability and potential effect of a novel cueing technology on gait, and represents an important first step toward the development of a technology aimed to prevent FOG by delivering individually adjusted cues automatically. A further full-scale study is needed. Trial registration This study was registered in ClinicalTrials.gov at 1/2/2022 NCT05211687.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported by a grant received from the Faculty of Social Welfare & Health Sciences, University of Haifa.
We thank the Israeli Parkinson Association for their assistance. We thank all the participants for their time, effort, and valuable feedback. The technology was developed and provided by Selfit Medical Ltd. We appreciate the collaboration with Shahar Figelman and Amit Katz of Selfit Medical Ltd.
© 2023, The Author(s).
- External cues
- Freezing of gait
- Light stripes
- Parkinson’s disease
- Patient satisfaction
- Smart home
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Biomedical Engineering
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging