Queensland company launches world’s first technology to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
April 11, 2013: Brisbane based technology company Bright Devices and Australian Parkinson’s disease specialist Dr Rodney Marsh have today launched a world first product to assist in alleviating one of the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
Agilitas is an Australian designed, world first, visual cueing device that is designed to assist people who experience mobility impairment such as freeze of gait (FoG).
“FoG impacts approximately 28, 000 Australians with Parkinson’s Disease. It can make it difficult to walk and undertake daily activities, said Dr Marsh.
“FoG can also lead to imbalance and falls and ultimately can lead to a severe loss of independence for the sufferer. “
Dr Marsh envisioned the concept for an automatic device to overcome FoG and it was then developed by Brisbane based, award –winning development and commercialisation firm e3k. e3k is the New Product Division of Gilmore Engineers Pty Ltd. The Managing Director and President, Dr Duncan Gilmore, established Bright Devices to commercialise Agilitas and has been the project director for many advanced products.
“By using Agilitas users can reduce and eliminate the need for a cane, walker or wheelchair. Users can lessen reliance on carers, and be more confident that they will be able to quickly manage a freeze at home or in public,” said Dr Gilmore.
“Critically Agilitas can also decrease the chance of freeze-related injuries from falls.”
How does Agilitas work?
A wearable motion sensing device, Agilitas uses a patented method to automatically detect when the user starts to freeze. The device projects a red dot onto the ground, creating a visual cue to the brain to break the freeze and allow the wearer to continue walking.
For people experiencing symptoms of walking difficulty, visual cueing in the form of an object or projected light on the ground in front of them can assist their mobility.
“During a freezing of gait episode, the neural pathway to instruct your body “to walk” is obstructed. But when you see a visual cue, it activates the visual sensory receptors in your brain,” Dr Marsh said.
Agilitas works in both manual and automatic modes. In automatic mode Agilitas will detect a freeze and automatically turn on. In manual mode, the wearer switches the laser on by tapping it. This is convenient for users when they are likely to suffer frequent FoG episodes such as walking around furniture. Automatic mode also allows users to adjust levels of sensitivity.
Ongoing management of Agilitas will be conducted by Brisbane-based technology company, Bright Devices. The company’s key focus is to reduce the social impact of neurologically based movement disorders by providing the best in technology. Agilitas is a registered trademark of Bright Devices.
Bright Devices Pty Ltd operates in close alliance with research and development consultancy Gilmore Engineers Pty Ltd, and the product design and development group e3k, an award-winning research, development and commercialisation firm led by Dr Duncan Gilmore, with a 27 year trading history.
Agilitas is a smart device that will revolutionise the world of people suffering from freezing of gait and other symptoms of mobility impairment associated with Parkinson’s Disease.
Agilitas is brought to you by Bright Devices Pty Ltd, an Australian technology company formed to improve the quality of life for people with movement disorders.
Cueing is a visual, audible or tactile signal used as a prompt or instruction, for example, to lift a leg and take a step. Studies have shown visual cueing is highly effective in assisting a person, who has difficulty walking, to take new steps.
Parkinsons Disease Symptoms
Parkinsons Disease is a degenerative disorder of the brain, which makes thinking, concentrating, and moving around difficult or even impossible. Parkinsons Disease affects up to 0.1% of the global population, and up to 1% of people over 60. This is a looming global health concern, especially with a rising ageing population.
One of the most devastating Parkinsons Disease Symptoms is “Freeze of Gait”, or PARKINSON GAIT.
Read more about TREATMENTS FOR FREEZE OF GAIT.
Bright Devices Pty Ltd developed the AGILITAS, designed to assist people who find walking difficult, including start-hesitation, step-shortening, multitasking, obstacle navigation and Freeze of Gait.
For more information on the Parkinsons Community in your state in Australia, refer to these websites:
Bright Devices has developed a Parkinsons Breakthrough – an automatic freeze-detecting, wearable cueing device… AGILITAS.
Agilitas is a subtle, wearable device designed to dramatically reduce the outwardly visible effects of walking difficulties associated with Parkinsons Disease and other disorders. Our trials have shown that Agilitas can accurately detect freeze of gait episodes, and its laser light is an effective method of visual cueing to assist in continued walking.
Over time, using Agilitas may even assist you to increase muscle strength and allow you independence from a walking cane, walker or wheelchair. Having the confidence and freedom to walk without hesitation can greatly improve your quality of life.
Agilitas is automatic… it can detect Freeze-of-Gait episodes.
Agilitas provides a Visual Cue… it can assist you to overcome Freeze-of-Gait.
Agilitas is practical… it is simply worn on your belt or waistband.
Agilitas is discreet… don’t feel embarrassed by carrying a walking cane or walker!
Parkinson Gait, or Freeze-of-Gait is a strange phenomenon – it is a sudden, temporary inability to walk. It’s estimated to affect up to 50% of people with Parkinsons, during the course of their illness. That’s a staggering 15 million people worldwide (estimated).
For many people with Parkinsons Disease Symptoms, Freeze-of-Gait (Parkinson Gait) commonly occurs when starting out on a walk, turning around, encountering doorways, or trying to do two things at once. Even carrying a cup of tea while walking inside your own home might trigger a Freeze. Freeze-of-Gait (Parkinson Gait) is an uncomfortable experience, which causes feelings of helplessness, frustration and embarrassment. You may become fearful of venturing outside or even out of bed. It’s often the cause of dangerous falls, as well as imposing a growing burden on public and community health in our aging population.
A new breakthrough for those with Parkinson Gait is the Agilitas.
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Parkinsons Disease Symptoms
Treatments for Freeze of Gait (Parkinson Gait)
Unfortunately, besides pharmaceutical treatments for Parkinsons Disease Symptoms, current treatments for Freeze-of-Gait (Parkinson Gait)
are largely ineffective and limited in application.
A VISUAL CUE is one of the more promising treatments. During a freezing episode, a Visual Cue can help you overcome the freeze. A Visual
Cue could be an object or line on the ground, or a companion’s foot, which is placed as a guide for your next step and then removed from
view. It works because it gives you a point of focus for your next step, stimulating your mind to step “on” or “over” it and continue walking smoothly.
A Visual Cue is more effective than a pulsed auditory cue (such as a metronome) or a fixed cue (such as lines painted on the floor), because of the
tendency to become accustomed to the fixed signals so they lose their cueing effectiveness.
An automatic Visual Cue is even better than a self-operated cue, such as button-operated lights, which can be likened to trying to tickle yourself.
WHO CAN USE AGILITAS?
Agilitas may provide beneficial assistance to anyone who experiences difficulty walking. Agilitas may be useful for people experiencing symptoms of Parkinsons Disease. This includes: hesitation when starting or stopping, navigation around corners, travel through hallways or doorways, Freeze-of-Gait (FOG), encountering obstacles (such as furniture and steps) or step shortening.
Does Agilitas use a battery?
Yes. Agilitas has a rechargeable battery that does not need replacing. Agilitas can be used for over 12 hours of normal operation (automatic mode), depending on the frequency of use, before needing a recharge. Agilitas will need to be recharged after 4-8 hours if the laser light is left on continuously (manual mode). The Agilitas indicator light will change from green to orange when battery power is running low.
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