News / Science & Technology

New Laser Device Helps Parkinson's Patients Walk

New Laser Device Helps Parkinson's Patients Walki
X
February 01, 2014 12:32 AM
Parkinson’s disease slowly destroys the brain’s ability to control the muscles, depriving the patients of their mobility. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, in Jacksonville, Florida, have developed a laser-based device that helps patients walk again. VOA’s George Putic has more.

New Laser Device Helps Parkinson's Patients Walk

George Putic
Parkinson’s disease slowly destroys the brain’s ability to control the muscles, depriving the patients of their mobility. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, in Jacksonville, Florida, have developed a laser-based device that helps patients walk again.

Four years ago, Wayne Puckett could get around only in a wheelchair, because a form of Parkinson’s disease had damaged the connection between his brain and his leg muscles. “It is a hard thing to take and you feel like less of a person. You know, your kids, you are not able to do as much and they see it,” he said.

In 2010, neurologist Jay Van Gerpen, of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, told Puckett about a device that would help him walk again. At first, Puckett did not believe him.

“He told me that he has a little red line that was going to be able to make me walk. I was like, ain't no way,” said Puckett.

Van Gerpen calls his device ‘the mobilaser.’ A laser, attached to a walker, generates a beam of light, which provides a visual cue for patients with difficulty walking, because of a neurological disease or brain trauma.

“There is a part of the brain when you want to initiate walking in the prefrontal cortex in the basal ganglia, and if those areas get damaged then those signals don't get to the primary motor cortex,” said Van Gerpen.

By watching the laser’s red line, the patient concentrates on a different task. That makes his brain send signals along a different path to the motor cortex, avoiding the damaged areas where those signals get jammed.

“We are capitalizing on the parts of the brain that are working quite well to help compensate for those that are not,” he said.

Van Gerpen said most of his patients improved their mobility, and Wayne Puckett said the mobilaser helped him get back his life.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
February 15, 2014 8:59 AM
Does this work for TBI patients who can't walk?


by: toni chiara
February 14, 2014 1:00 PM
this is NOT new - a walker with a laser and a cane with a laser have been available for at least the past 5 years- the walker is known as the U-walker (available with or without the laser) AND the company has a cane with a laser. HOWEVER BOTH HAVE THE SAME ISSUE - THE PATIENT NEEDS TO LOOK AT THE LASER, WHICH CAUSES THEIR EYES TO BE LOOKING AT THE FLOOR INSTEAD OF LOOKING AHEAD - WHICH IS THE CORRECT POSTURE!!

In Response

by: Jonathan Miller from: Skokie IL
February 24, 2014 6:30 PM
Toni is right that we have been making laser walkers and canes for years - actually over ten years. Given the dramatic benefit of reducing Parkinson freezing and falls, looking down isn't as big of an issue. Please see the European Rescue study that concluded that looking down to use the laser walker is OK given the dramatic benefit to the patient in being able to walk safely. My beef with this article is that the Mayo Clinic is acting like they found something new, when we have been making this product for years.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid