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New Treatment for Parkinson's Disease Gait Presented at the American Acadamy of Neurology Annual Meeting

A new, in-home training device with virtual reality cues improving gait and balance in patients with Parkinson's disease was presented by lead researcher Dr. Alberto Espay at the American Acadamy of Neurology annual meeting.

(PRWEB) January 25, 2010 -- Quality of life and motor function are impaired by shuffling and freezing of gait in people with Parkinson's disease (PD).

It is well known that certain auditory and visual cues can improve motor function in people with PD.

Dr. Alberto Espay, presented the results of his study which showed successful treatment of gait impairment for Parkinson's disease by using a new patented device, the GaitAid.

Patients in the study received the device for in-home use during a two week period. The participants used the device daily for 20 minutes. Gait parameters were measured before, during and after the two week period.

Over 70% of patients in this study improved their gait.

Dr. Espay concluded his presentation: "Gait velocity and stride length were improved in PD patients with a marked residual (lasting) effect.".

During his platform presentation, Dr. Espay acknowleged this device as a "desirable, non-pharmacologic, intervention to improve walking in PD.", noting that the device is low cost, easy to use (no training by professionals is needed to use the device at home ) and it provides improved functioning by the patient during and after use.

The devices used in this study are registered with the FDA as the GaitAid device and are available for a one month trial period to individuals, clinicians, and retirement homes at the company's website:

More information about the GaitAid device as well as clinical trials is available on MediGait's website.

About Dr. Espay:
Dr. Alberto Espay completed his Neurology training at Indiana University, where he was awarded the Alexander Treloar Ross Award Honorable Mention for the most outstanding paper by a neurology resident. He trained in Movement Disorders at the Toronto Western Hospital, with Dr. Anthony Lang, during 2001-2003. He then completed a Dystonia Medical Research Foundation Clinical Research Fellowship with special training in Electrophysiology of Movement Disorders, with Dr. Robert Chen, and a thesis-based MSc Graduate program in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research at the University of Toronto, both during 2003-2005. Dr. Espay received a two-year Sam and Fran Belzberg and Dennis and Barbara Kessler DMRF award for his study “Pathophysiology of Psychogenic Dystonia,” published by the Annals of Neurology in 2006. He has published 27 peer-reviewed articles and has authored 6 book chapters and 24 published abstracts and presented papers.  Dr. Espay has been awarded the Dean’s Scholar in Clinical Research Award by the University of Cincinnati for the years 06/07, 07/08, and 08/09 which “fosters the career development of promising junior faculty in clinical research.” Dr. Espay is the principal investigator in four ongoing investigator-initiated clinical studies at the University of Cincinnati, including a clinical trial sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, evaluating the effects of methylphenidate on the freezing of gait in patients with Parkinson’s disease. He serves as a member of the Institutional Research Board at the University of Cincinnati and is an ad hoc reviewer for 13 neurology and medical journals. Dr. Espay is the founder and director of the Toronto Western Extended Research Network, a community of movement disorders neurologists designing and developing common clinical research protocols. He has been an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Cincinnati since July 2005.

About the GaitAid and MediGait:
The idea for the GaitAid project was sparked 12 years ago while Professor Baram was designing a mechanism for NASA to navigate low-flying helicopters around obstacles. The concept of the design, which Baram later applied to the medical device, is that the optical images of objects help the observer navigate, stabilize and pace movement in space.


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