Doctors currently diagnose many neurological diseases by observing the gait of a patient; however, many patients feel uncomfortable in the medical surroundings and do not behave naturally. To remove this obstacle to diagnose, CITRIS researchers are developing an automated diagnostic system that will enable various gait and movement disorders to be quantitatively characterized. This system, which measures inertia, will allow patients to collect information at their home and at other locations that reflect their daily routine.
The inertia measuring device works by detecting sudden movements of the upper body when it is out of phase with lower extremity movements. Arm measurements can be taken of patients with Parkinsonian syndromes and may help to reveal the unilateral predominance of any deficit. In patients who have suffered from a stroke, asymmetry of arm-swing may be characteristic, whereas in those with cerebellar disturbances or other non-Parkinsonian movement disorders, the arm movements may be chaotic and disorganized. The findings will thus help to identify the nature of the underlying problem.
In addition, this simple and inexpensive device can be used by clinicians in remote areas without experienced experts available to provide diagnostic or prognostic assistance. The data can also be transmitted instantaneously over the Web to such an expert. The sternum sensor also allows the detection of actual falls of the user in “real time” in the home setting, and thus allow for dispatch of emergency medical services to the home when a patient may not be able to call for them by phone or even by a “lifeline” service.