Study of vibrotactile cueing by means of vibrating socks in a virtual environment to mitigate any gait freezing in Parkinson patients

Basic data for this project

Type of project: Internally at the University of Münster funded project
Duration: 01/01/2022 - 31/12/2023


Parkinson patients’ gait can be marked by ‘freezing’. Imagine your feet suddenly sticking to the ground, so that the next step cannot be taken: that’s what ‘freezing’ is like. It impairs the mobility of the patient and leads to them losing their balance and falling, and this reduces the quality of life. Treating this freezing with medication is inadequate. A much more promising approach – and a non-pharmacological one – is so-called ‘cueing’. External (rhythmic) temporal or spatial stimuli (cues) are used to initiate a movement, for example walking, or to continue the movement. What’s especially promising is the use of vibrotactile signals – i.e. whenever freezing occurs the patient gets a tactile stimulus, for example through a vibration element worn on the ankle. Vibrotactile cueing therefore has a lot of potential to reduce freezing. In the Collaboration Grant we’re studying the impact of vibrotactile signals on cognitive-motoric performance under conditions similar to those in everyday life. This takes place in virtual reality – in a virtual Gait Realtime Analysis Interactive Lab (GRAIL). The aim is to demonstrate the efficacy of ‘vibrating socks’ in realistic scenarios – in particular, in comparison with other (visual or auditory) cueing systems.

Keywords: Parkinson; Biomedical Signals