Lasers for improved gait: Is there an inexpensive laser device that attaches to a walker to help people with Parkinson’s?

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Is there an inexpensive laser device that attaches to a walker to help people with Parkinson’s?

Question

I would like some help selecting a laser device for Parkinson patients experiencing freezing. I am looking for something similar to the UStep walker (www.ustep.com). However, I believe there are cheaper devices that can attach onto existing walkers rather than require patients to buy an expensive all-in-one product. Can you provide any guidance?

Our answer

There certainly has been some exciting research recently into using lasers to help minimize gait freezing among people with Parkinson’s. However, there don’t seem to be many choices in the marketplace at this point.

  • As you noted, In-Step Mobility, the company that created the U-Step walker, has developed an optional Laser & Sound Cue. This device – which costs about $260 (U.S.), plus shipping – is made to work only with U-Step walkers.
  • The same company has developed a product called the LaserCane, which costs about $210 (U.S.) plus additional shipping and projects a bright line across the user’s path.
  • Another device called Path Finder was developed in Denmark to reduce freezing by attaching the laser to a person’s shoes. However at about $650 (Cdn) a pair, not including shipping, the price doesn’t provide much of an advantage over purchasing a standard U-Step walker, which runs about $770 to $1,200 (Cdn).

Another possibility is that you submit a technology request form to CanAssist at the University of Victoria, asking the organization to develop a laser device that can be attached to different types of walkers. Technology requests can be made by individuals, health professionals and organizations.

While we can’t promise that a request would lead to a technology project, CanAssist’s Engineering Manager says that a laser for walkers is an interesting concept and that a request would be a way to determine if the project was viable by doing some more in-depth market research.

 

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