Robotic Device Improves Balance and Gait in Parkinson’s Disease

Schematic of TPAD

Schematic of Columbia Engineering’s robot-driven Tethered Pelvic Assist Device with a subject using the TPAD training method to improve stability in Parkinson’s disease patients while walking.
(Courtesy of Sunil Agrawal/Columbia Engineering)

A research team led by Sunil K. Agrawal, PhD, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Rehabilitation/Regenerative Medicine, Columbia University, and Dario Martelli, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Agrawal’s lab, has shown that a single session of perturbation-based training using their robot-driven device — Tethered Pelvic Assist Device (TPAD) — can improve the balance of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Dr. Agrawal’s team has been working on this issue with Movement Disorders faculty in the Department of Neurology at Columbia. In a study published in Scientific Reports, they looked at whether or not PD affects patients’ balance and diminishes their ability to react and adapt to walking with perturbations. The researchers found that the ability to adapt to multiple perturbations or to modify responses to changing amplitudes or directions was not affected by PD; both the Parkinson’s and the healthy subjects controlled their reactive strategies in the same way. In fact, both groups improved their unperturbed walking after a single training session with repeated waist pull perturbations.

Reference Article
Martelli D, Luo L, Kang J, Kang UJ, Fahn S, Agrawal SK. Adaptation of stability during perturbed walking in Parkinson’s disease. Scientific Reports. 2017 Dec 19;7(1):17875.

For More Information
Dr. Sunil K. Agrawal | [email protected]