Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences have developed a soft robotic garment to help people living with Parkinson’s walk without freezing. The garment, worn around the hips and thighs, gives a gentle push to the hips as the leg swings, helping the patient achieve a longer stride. This completely eliminated freezing while walking indoors, allowing them to walk faster and further than they could without the garment’s help. The technology could potentially help people to regain both their mobility and their independence, and the researchers are excited about the impact of the technology. The research was supported by various grants and written up in Nature Medicine. The technology could also be used to better understand the mechanisms of gait freezing. The research suggests that restoring almost-normal biomechanics alters the peripheral dynamics of gait and may influence the central processing of gait control. This technology could be an important step forward in treating gait freezing and helping individuals living with Parkinson’s to have a better quality of life.

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