Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports on a new virtual reality device to help Parkinson’s patients walk more easily.
CURWOOD: Just ahead, your letters. First, this environmental Technology Note from Cynthia Graber.
GRABER: People who suffer from Parkinsons disease tend to hesitate and stumble when they walk. Now, a new virtual reality device may help them move more easily through their environment. Previous research revealed that Parkinsons patients walk better on tiled floors. Thats because the sharp edges and lines are easy to see. Tiles also encourage patients to stretch their legs further, and pick them up to reach the next block.
So Dr. Yoram Baram, at Israels Technion University, used this information to design a virtual tiled floor. He took a pair of eyeglasses and attached a tiny computer screen to the rim so that it hangs in front of one lens. A computer displays an image of a tiled floor to the screen. When a person takes a step, sensors in the glasses pick up the movement and the virtual tiles on the screen move as if the person were actually walking along a real tiled floor.
The virtual image is small enough that it doesnt impede the patients overall vision. Dr. Baram conducted a study with 40 patients. He found that their speed and the length and stability of their stride improved by an average of 25 to 30%. Thats this weeks Technology Note. Im Cynthia Graber.
CURWOOD: And youre listening to Living on Earth.
[MUSIC: Earnest Woodall, "128 Details from a Picture," PICTURES IN MIND (Zephyrwood Music – 2002)]
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth