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Dissecting the distinctive walk of disease
Date:7/2/2013

PITTSBURGH -- Older adults diagnosed with brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease often feel a loss of independence because of their lack of mobility and difficulty walking. To better understand and improve these mobility issuesand detect them soonera University of Pittsburgh multidisciplinary research team is working toward building a more advanced motion test that addresses a wider range of walking patterns and movements.

In a recent issue of IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, researchers from Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and School of Medicine propose a mathematical model that can examine multiple walking, or gait-related, features in healthy and clinical populations. To date, no study has brought together such a team to examine such a high number of movement features comparing healthy and clinical older adults. Previous studies have typically only measured one or two types of movement features in just one population.

"Right away, you can tell whether an older individual has difficulties walking by conducting a simple gait test," said Ervin Sejdic, lead author of the paper and an assistant professor of engineering in the Swanson School. "But can we quantify these changes and document them earlier? That's the biggest issue here and what we're trying to model."

Thirty-five adults older than 65 were recruited for the study, including 14 healthy participants, 10 individuals with Parkinson's disease, and 11 adults who had impaired feeling in their legs owing to peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage). Walking trials were performed using a computer-controlled treadmill, and participants wore an accelerometera small box attached with a beltand a set of reflective markers on their lower body that allowed for tracking of the participants' movements through a camera-based, motion-analysis system. These two systems allowed the team to examine the
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Contact: B. Rose Huber
rhuber@pitt.edu
412-624-4356
University of Pittsburgh
Source:Eurekalert

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