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25.04.2016 | Original Communication | Ausgabe 6/2016 Open Access

Journal of Neurology 6/2016

Feasibility of external rhythmic cueing with the Google Glass for improving gait in people with Parkinson’s disease

Journal of Neurology > Ausgabe 6/2016
Yan Zhao, Jorik Nonnekes, Erik J. M. Storcken, Sabine Janssen, Erwin E. H. van Wegen, Bastiaan R. Bloem, Lucille D. A. Dorresteijn, Jeroen P. P. van Vugt, Tjitske Heida, Richard J. A. van Wezel


New mobile technologies like smartglasses can deliver external cues that may improve gait in people with Parkinson’s disease in their natural environment. However, the potential of these devices must first be assessed in controlled experiments. Therefore, we evaluated rhythmic visual and auditory cueing in a laboratory setting with a custom-made application for the Google Glass. Twelve participants (mean age = 66.8; mean disease duration = 13.6 years) were tested at end of dose. We compared several key gait parameters (walking speed, cadence, stride length, and stride length variability) and freezing of gait for three types of external cues (metronome, flashing light, and optic flow) and a control condition (no-cue). For all cueing conditions, the subjects completed several walking tasks of varying complexity. Seven inertial sensors attached to the feet, legs and pelvis captured motion data for gait analysis. Two experienced raters scored the presence and severity of freezing of gait using video recordings. User experience was evaluated through a semi-open interview. During cueing, a more stable gait pattern emerged, particularly on complicated walking courses; however, freezing of gait did not significantly decrease. The metronome was more effective than rhythmic visual cues and most preferred by the participants. Participants were overall positive about the usability of the Google Glass and willing to use it at home. Thus, smartglasses like the Google Glass could be used to provide personalized mobile cueing to support gait; however, in its current form, auditory cues seemed more effective than rhythmic visual cues.

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