Swedish scientists have developed a wearable electronic device that may help seniors with Parkinson’s achieve a better sense of balance. The pocked-sized stimulation device is among the recent advancements in the treatment of Parkinson’s symptoms that are welcome news to the million or so people already living with the disease in the United States.
Stimulating the Brain’s Balance Center
Similar to what’s accomplished with TENS therapy, the device developed by researchers at the University of Gothenburg is designed to stimulate the part of the brain that controls balance and movement. What’s unique about the device is that it stimulates the brain’s balance center without unintentionally making balance worse in the process.
The device is designed to be worn externally, eliminating the need for a minimally invasive procedure to place it. Instead, patches are placed behind the ears of the patient, which is where the part of the brain that controls balance is located.
In early experimentation on rats, electronic stimulation resulted in improved motor skills in the animals. A limited human study conducted by the Swedish researchers showed noticeable improvements in most of the subjects. One patient had minimal improvement, although researchers noted that there may have been other issues contributing to his balance issues.
Helping Later Stage Patients
While levodopa is almost universally prescribed to patients with Parkinson’s disease, often resulting in a noticeable reduction in symptoms, its effectiveness often subsides over time. It’s hoped that the device may be used in conjunction with levodopa treatments to compensate for periods when the medication becomes less effective.
Further studies are planned to determine if the stimulation patches can be worn long-term and used safely in a home setting. Since balance impairment can make it difficult for people with the progressive condition to walk without assistance, improving balance with a convenient wearable device could mean increased independence for Parkinson’s patients who receive home care in Douglas County.
If Parkinson’s makes everyday tasks like running errands, cooking, or personal grooming more challenging for your loved one, give Home Care Assistance a call at 720-580-5378. In addition to Parkinson’s care, we offer comprehensive Alzheimer’s and dementia home care in Douglas County, ensuring seniors have help and support regardless of ability. Reach out today. We are here to help.