Sensors Embedded in Shoes Can Detect Parkinson’s Disease
Researchers from Taiwan’s National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University have developed a pressure-sensing shoe insole capable of detecting Parkinson’s disease (PD). The neurodegenerative brain disorder affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine.
Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD every year. More than 10 million people worldwide live with the disease, which has progressive symptoms that include tremors, muscle rigidity, changes in speech, and gait. There is no cure (yet), but there are ways to help mitigate the symptoms early in its progression.
One of those ways is to detect PD in its early stages, and the researchers' insoles can accomplish that task quickly. Their system is designed around the Raspberry Pi 3, which is strapped around the wearer’s calf. The Pi is paired with a Himax WE-I Plus board connected to eight FlexiForce sensors placed evenly on the shoe’s insoles.
The sensors in the shoes detect pressure as the wearer walks and measure’s their gait, which the Pi processes. Information on an accompanying app lets users review their results and allows them to view real-time data while they walk.
User’s unique gait data is collected and analyzed by machine learning algorithms and compared to those with PD. The algorithms then make a prediction that indicates if the wearer has PD. Data was collected beforehand, using people with PD and those who don’t, to gain accurate models.