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Laser-equipped shoes help Parkinson's patients take the next step

Laser-equipped shoes help Parkinson's patients take the next step
From TechCrunch - December 21, 2017

Heres an unexpected but pleasant little way tech might be able to improve a few lives: laser shoes. Yes, seriously. Shoes equipped with small laser emitters were shown in recent tests to help sufferers of Parkinsons disease to walk normally.

One of the possible symptoms of Parkinsons is whats called gait freezing, where a person finds themselves unable to take a step despite willing themselves to walk forward. Being unable to move for the duration of the freeze (anything from a few seconds to over a minute) is inconvenient, but it can also cause a person to lose their balance and topple over.

Interestingly, during a freeze, a person may be able to break out of it by concentrating on something near their feet that they can step towards or over, such as a floorboard or a crack in the sidewalk. Of course, such a feature is not always present. So what if you could manifest one on demand?

Thats the idea behind the laser shoes, imagined by the University of Twentes Murielle Ferraye: each one has a laser projection device mounted to the toe that produces a line about 18 inches aheada line towards which the user can then step. The laser turns off while the shoe is in motion, so its only ever the resting foot that projects a line.

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