Current Research Projects

Detection of Freezing of Gait in Parkinson’s Disease

Status: Active. Role: Primary

One of the symptoms that Parkinson disease (PD) can cause is freezing of gait (FOG): sudden temporary halting of the legs during walking. This symptom can make it impossible for PD patients to walk  and can cause them to fall. Unlike many other symptoms of PD, FOG often does not respond to treatment. One obstacle to finding an effective treatment is that FOG occurs very erratically. It is often undetected during an office visit. We need a method to reliably assess FOG so that we can then accurately test whether a treatment is effective.

In this project we use wearable sensors to devise novel methods to record FOG in the clinic and at home. We process data from the wearable sensors with a software algorithm developed by our collaborators in the School of Engineering (Prof. Arye Nehorai and his group) to detect instances of FOG. These new methods will allow us to accurately assess FOG across a variety of gait-related activities, and will allow more reliable and informative testing of future treatments of FOG.

The Effect of Deep Brain Stimulation on Individual Components of Bradykinesia in Parkinson’s Disease

Status: Active. Role: Primary

The term bradykinesia is commonly used to refer to more than just slowing of movements. Reduction of movement amplitude and gradual decrement of speed and amplitude are also considered part of what some call the “bradykinesia complex” (BKC).  In this project we studied the effect of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus on kinematics of hand movements. We separately examined movement amplitude, speed, and their decrement over time in a repetitive hand pronation-supination task. These results will help us understand the aspects of motor control that benefit from DBS treatment.

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