Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's, Huntington’s disease, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), lead to a variety of mobility problems which impair the quality of life of the patients remarkably. The symptoms and course of the disorder tend to vary a lot and are patient specific. Despite a high need for personalized treatment to help the patients in the best possible way, finding an effective strategy to manage the disorder and establish an eligible therapeutic approach is a challenging task.
In this project we will focus on one of the most disabling symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, freezing of gait – episodic absence or reduction in the ability to produce an effective stepping in spite of the intention to walk (Nutt et al., 2011). External visual or auditory cues, such as laser beam or rhythmic sounds, assists the patients to circumvent the walking problems. Furthermore, patients themselves discover various compensation strategies to overcome walking difficulties.
Currently, the reason why some of these strategies are beneficial for some patients but fail to help others is not clear. Furthermore, brain processes underlying compensation phenomena remain to be investigated.
Addressing these questions is only possible by monitoring the brain activity of moving patients during the episodes of the freezing of gait. In the PROMPT project (Personalized care and Research on Motoric-dysfunctioning for Patient-Specific Treatments) six different parties join forces to develop and examine such a mobile system. Artinis and ANTNeuro (expertise in EEG systems) and take care of technical integration of hemodynamic (fNIRS) and neurophysiological (EEG) signal data acquisition and analysis streams, while scientists of the University of Twente (TechMed Centre, Biomedical Signals and Systems group) and Radboud University (Donders Institute for brain, cognition and behaviour) collaborate to coordinate the research process. Orikami company will contribute by developing advanced data analysis algorithms for predicting and adapting effective treatment strategies for each individual. Finally, ParkinsonNet, the Dutch network of health care professionals working with Parkinson patients, will have an advisory role in the system validation process.
In this project, fNIRS-coverage of several brain areas of interest will be obtained with the Brite.
Nutt, J. G., Bloem, B. R., Giladi, N., Hallett, M., Horak, F. B., & Nieuwboer, A. (2011). Freezing of gait: moving forward on a mysterious clinical phenomenon. The Lancet Neurology, 10(8), 734-744.
Nonnekes, J., Růžička, E., Nieuwboer, A., Hallett, M., Fasano, A., & Bloem, B. R. (2019). Compensation Strategies for Gait Impairments in Parkinson Disease: A Review. JAMA neurology.