Gandhinagar, March 9: A smart walking stick developed at Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) to help patients of Parkinson’s Disease was selected for display at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. The product was displayed at an exhibition on “Innovations in Medical Science and Biotechnology” organized by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on March 9, 2017 which showcased around 45 technologies in the area of health selected from across the country.
The walking stick called “SWASTi” prevents phenomena called “freezing of gait” frequently faced by patients of Parkinson’s disease. In this phenomenon the patient, in the middle of their walk, suddenly becomes completely unable to move.
The smart walking stick developed by IITGN Faculty, Prof Uttama Lahiri, along with her team members – BTech student G Sai Rama Krishna; MTech student Megh Patel and designer at IITGN Franklin Kristi, detects and prevents freezing of gait that is about to occur.
Prof Lahiri said, “SWASTi has microcontroller module that use proximity sensors along with self-learning algorithm to dynamically identify and prevent freezing of gait in a patient.”
The sensors and microcontrollers in the walking stick detect the pattern of movements of the user and analyze these patters to predict a ‘freezing of gait’ that is about to take place. As soon as it predicts a freezing, it sends a signal to a wireless device worn around the calves of the patient which subsequently vibrates to sooth the muscles and prevents it from freezing.
The device also creates rhythmic tapping sounds and throws laser lights ahead of the patient to help them walk without freezing.