Parkinson’s disease is estimated to affect up to 4 million people worldwide.
Often considered as a condition which impacts the elderly or presenting similar to dementia, Parkinson’s is most commonly found in males over 60, but this isn’t always the case. There are many reports of individuals being diagnosed at a much younger age.
The causes of Parkinson’s are varied but can broadly be categorised as both environmental and genetic, meaning those in younger age groups aren’t necessarily safe from a Parkinson’s diagnosis, especially if there is a history of the disease within the family. Although the exact causes are not known, we do know that people with Parkinson’s lack dopamine, due to the death of dopamine-producing nerve cells in their body.
Characterised by shaky movements and an unsteady gait, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s usually consists of a barrage of lab tests and months of medical assessments. This chronic and progressive condition often manifests itself slowly, however, new technology has been created that may help to get the right medication much quicker.
This breakthrough means that anyone suffering from Parkinson’s can access the optimum dosage and therapies they require much sooner, to help improve their lives and control their condition.
A technical breakthrough
Usually, medical experts rely on a series of tests to measure the severity of symptoms, but they can often be subject to bias and the experience of the person conducting the assessment. Thanks to new wearable sensors and algorithms, scientists can determine how gait speed is affected in Parkinson’s using a foot-worn sensor that offers real-time data. This data cannot be affected by external factors other than the results themselves.
During a recent clinical assessment to test the equipment and theory behind the new tech, patients were asked to take part in two types of walking tests. In the first test, those taking part in the study had to walk for 20 meters in a straight line. A second test asked participants to walk in circles five times.
Both walking tests were conducted when patients were on a medication that reduces motor problems and were then repeated a second time when they were taken off the medication. Based on the data reported back to the researchers by the sensors, scientists were able to calculate the average and the fastest gait speed for each individual.
Once all of the results had been collated and carefully considered, the researcher could clearly see the impact of medication on gait speed, something which will help medical practitioners to assign the best medication and correct dosage levels for Parkinson’s patients in the future.
The foot sensors will also allow clinical teams to see if their patients are responding to the treatment as anticipated, meaning that medication can be altered faster if necessary.
Here at Ashridge Home Care, we have access to the very best advice from our team of highly-respected in-house medical professionals, so if specialist Parkinson’s care is needed, we make sure your loved one receives the very best.